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Onboarding your new Trustees

Posted on 20/10/2020 by Brigitte Stundner

New worker

You will now have invested a considerable amount of time and effort into recruiting new Trustees and it’s important that your organisation provides a good on-boarding process. This will show your new Trustees that their success is important and will demonstrate that the organisation is well-organised and will ensure cohesion with the existing Trustees. The induction can often last the first few months of a new Trustee joining the Board.

To start, there are several documents new Trustees should review when joining (if they haven’t already), including:

  • Letter confirming their appointment and the length of their term
  • Governing document
  • Minutes and board papers for the last two meetings
  • The latest Annual Report and Accounts
  • Current strategy or business plans
  • Board-approved policies e.g. for safeguarding, conflicts of interest etc
  • Details of upcoming meetings and key events, including the date, time and location

You may also wish to point new Trustees to the following documents:

  • Setting out roles and responsibilities of the board (which may include Chair, Treasurer, etc. as well as trustees) and job description of the CEO (if applicable)
  • Board terms of reference or code of conduct
  • Organisation chart including different committees and governance structure as well as operational/management structure
  • Terms of reference for any committees
  • Scheme of delegation and/or financial thresholds for expenditure.

Other aspects to consider during the induction period is to ensure new Trustees will have an opportunity to speak to the Chair, other Trustees and key senior staff. The Chair may wish to give a briefing prior to the first board meeting and ensure the new Trustee is up to speed with everything, so they feel they can contribute from the very first meeting. You might also consider doing a more informal meeting for all Trustees to meet ahead of the first board meeting.

Another great way to engage with new Trustees and get them even more motivated and excited about the charity is for them to see first-hand the work of the charity, by visiting or observing some of the services the organisation provides and also meeting with some of it’s beneficiaries.

In addition to the induction process, it’s important for the Chair to follow-up with new Trustees in the first few months or after the first Board meeting. Also, suggesting development opportunities is a great way to ensure Trustees are keeping abreast of developments in your sector and in the wider non-profit world, and are developing their governance skills.

This may seem like a lot of work but investing in getting the right people on your Board is crucial and could make a real difference in your organisations’ success.


If you would like advice on any aspects of the process above or would like to discuss how TPP can support you in the search for new Trustees, please get in touch with Brigitte Stundner, Leadership & Governance Consultant on 020 7198 6060 or