Recruitment of trustees

There is only one thing harder than recruiting trustees for your charity and that is the removal of unsuitable trustees. So, your charity needs to get things right from the outset. Planning is everything. There are a series of steps that you may consider taking to recruit trustees who collectively will provide your charity with an appropriate range of skills, knowledge and diversity

STEP ONE  make sure your house is in order

Make sure the trustees are aware of any requirements in the governing documents such as:

  • a minimum or maximum number of trustees

  • Appointment of trustees

  • Length of term of office

Is your charity set up to support its trustees in a planned and systematic way? In other words, would a potential trustee be reassured by the level of support that your charity provides for its trustees?

  • Trustees are provide with a role description

  • Trustees receive an induction and an induction pack

  • New trustees are offered a mentor (a more experienced trustee) for their first 6 months in the role.

  • Trustees are provided with training

  • Trustees receive an annual appraisal

  • Trustees participate in a skills audit

  • The charity has a Trustee Grievance Procedure

  • The charity has a Trustee Whistle Blowing policy

  • Trustee board meetings, sub-committee meetings, annual general meeting and trustee away day are agreed one year in advance

  • Trustees are provided with papers for board meetings 7 days in advance of the meeting

  • The charity has a Trustee Expenses Policy and procedures in place for trustees claiming expenses

You will find model policies and procedures to assist your charity with the above in the Factsheets page

STEP TWO  Clarity  about the skills required

Complete  a trustee skills audit to identify “missing” skills.

Consider the current diversity of the board. For example, if your charity does not have a trustee from a BME background taking into account the beneficiaries served by your charity then you may consider including something in your advertising like: “ We are interested to hear from anyone who is wishing to help us rise to new challenges or from BME and other under represented communities”.

STEP THREE Trustees agree responsibilities and process for recruitment

  • Interviews will be carried out by a small panel of trustees using agreed criteria

  • Invitation to join the trustees is subject to: references; vetting and approval by the full board.

  • Unsuccessful applicants are notified and thanked for their interest

STEP FOUR  Prepare  your pitch

The charity will be advertising the  vacancy in various places so have the essentials  ready to adapt and to cut and paste

  • An introductory sentence about your charity

  • What your charity is looking for in terms of skills, knowledge and time commitment

  • What’s in it for them? You may mention that they will be able to make a lasting difference to a cause they care about. It will give them the opportunity to take on a leadership role. It is a good volunteering opportunity for busy people. (Only say that if it is true!) They will meet new and interesting people from diverse backgrounds (only say that if it is true!)Being a trustee is an excellent enhancement to a CV.

  • What your charity is asking of the trustee in terms of commitment

  • What is your charity offering the trustee?(This is the support referred to in step one)

  • Contact detail for your charity. This really should be a person- a trustee or if you are a large charity perhaps the company secretary.

STEP FIVE Start close to home

Are you sure that you need to set off on an odyssey to look for trustees by advertising for them all over the place?

  • If your charity is a membership organisation and presumably you may be looking to appoint trustees in between AGM’s have you tried communicating with your members to see if there is any interest?

  • Have you tried asking your existing volunteers if they are interested?

  • Have you tried asking your service users to see if anyone is interested?

  • Does your trustee board does have local contacts-any possibilities locally? Personal recommendations and word of mouth remain the most popular methods for recruiting new trustees.

  • Have you advertised locally – through your local community centre for example?

  • Have you approached other local charities?

STEP SIX Where to advertise

(No charge for any of these)

  1. Blog about your vacancy on

  2. Submit a news item about your vacancy at

  3. Follow the instructions at “I need volunteers” on  to add your volunteering opportunity

  4. If you have registered with the above you do not need to also register with Trustee Finder. However, the Small Charities Coalition which hosts Trustee Finder has some other useful ideas for recruitment which you may want to consider. Have a look at their Speed-recruiting service!

  1. Register your vacancy with Trustee Works

  1. Register with NCVO Trustee Bank

  1. A new national initiative, “Step on Board” will be launched soon. Details will be included here once the project is launched.

STEP SEVEN Interviews

  • Ask each applicant the same questions

STEP EIGHT  Vet potential trustees

  • Check that the applicant/s are not disqualified from acting as trustees

  • Ask the applicant to confirm in writing that this is the case

  • Ask the applicant/s if there are any existing or potential conflicts of interest

  • If the charity works with children or vulnerable adults a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service)check must be obtained

  • All in order: Formalise the appointment of a new trustee

STEP NINE  Make the appointment

  • Chair writes to prospective trustee, setting out their duties and the charity’s expectations. They are asked to sign and return a copy

  • An induction is arranged

  • Inform the Charity Commission and, if the charity is also a company complete Companies House forms