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Why do charities struggle to recruit trustees?

Posted on 23/06/2017 by Matt Adams


Research revealed by the Third Sector publication echoes the regular struggles and frustrations we hear about from our clients, repeatedly. It’s difficult to find Trustees who can give enough time and it can be onerous finding people with the skills your charity needs. Getting on Board’s report suggests a staggering 74% of charities find it difficult to recruit Trustees. The prime issue is becoming too reliant on using their existing network. It is time to step away from your network and use a search firm – costs are not always prohibitive and TPP Recruitment also has a pro bono option.

Having the right trustees is vitally important for the future of any charity and it is not a process that can be left to chance. It needs to be deeply rooted and built around a robust system designed to ensure the charity has a Trustee body that helps it to be as effective as possible.

There is now a wide body of evidence that says a Board benefits from diversity; it enables better decision-making, provides more challenges and brings fresh ideas and ways of doing things into an organisation.  Trustees bring a wealth of personal and professional experience to their role in supporting charities to run effectively. They use their expertise to help shape strategic direction. Yet many charities rely on word-of-mouth to source new talent, looking only within their existing and often limiting network. Using existing networks can be detrimental as it means boards hire in their own image and harder to challenge when close associates are fellow Trustees.

If we are to believe Inclusive Boards’ study of the ethnic diversity of Trustees of the 500 biggest charities, this heightened awareness of the value of diverse boards hasn’t yet translated into widespread change across the sector. Research into the gender balance of boards and the average age of trustees (57) only supports this view. A common misconception is that to be a Trustee you have the right experience and a considerable number of years under your belt. Here’s a thought; why not tap into the talent of millennials and get their wealth of social media knowledge and digital skills on board? According to the Charity Commission, only 0.5% of charity trustees are aged 18-24. It’s imperative that young trustees are not appointed as a token gesture; they can provide fresh prospective, have different and innovative outlooks and can help your digital strategy flourish. Reflect on the volunteers/donors of your organisation - are a healthy number under the age of 25? If so, it is even more essential to have a trustee with a voice that can engage with core supporters of your brand. 

Board-level volunteering has tremendous benefits for individuals, their employers and for the boards of charities and bodies that they join. We can help you get the right Trustee with the right skills - it’s no small feat which is why we have a dedicated team recruiting Trustees. We work as a strategic recruitment partner and we speak daily with trustees and candidates hoping to become Trustees. We build microsites for our clients to enhance and support the recruitment experience. 

Not for profit organisations of all sizes need a committed and diverse board of Trustees to achieve their full potential. At TPP, we support governance recruitment, including Trustees, Chairs and Treasurers, by offering different levels of service focused on your specific requirements.

The CEO & Trustee team at TPP, can look at specific requirements, do an in-depth analysis of what you need and the areas you are lacking. So please get in touch with the CEO & Trustee team today, email or call us on 020 7198 6060.