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Are you thinking about becoming a Trustee?

Posted on 20/07/2022 by Lisa Ross

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​Are you thinking about becoming a Trustee?

Over the years we’re really proud to say we’ve helped a large number of people find their first Trustee position.

We know you may be unsure about what is involved and how to become a Trustee, so we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions below.

Of course nothing beats speaking to us so if you’re interested in joining a charity Board please do get in touch – we’re here to support you, call Emma, Lisa or Matt on 020 7198 6060 or email us on executive@tpp.co.uk to arrange a time.

Why would you give your precious free time to become a Trustee?

In our previous blog Why become a Trustee? we’ve set out some of the key reasons. For most people though, this is an opportunity to ‘give back’ to a cause you have an affinity with - it’s a highly rewarding role, one where you’ll benefit both personally and professionally.

What is a Trustee?

Charity Trustees are often called ‘The Board’ and they make key joint decisions about the direction of the charity and how it’s going to deliver it – in a nutshell they make sure that the charity is run effectively.

Trustees are individually responsible for the charity’s governance, making sure it complies with the law and the policies, fulfils its objectives, and stays accountable to users. In effect, this boils down to trustees having six duties:

  • Ensure a charity is carrying out its purpose for the public benefit

  • Comply with the charity’s governing document and law

  • Act in the charity’s best interests

  • Manage the charity’s resources responsible

  • Act with reasonable care and skill

  • Ensure the charity is accountable

Another excellent information resource to read is the Charity Commission guide and NCVO (an organisation who champion the voluntary sector and volunteering).

Who can be a Trustee?

The answer is simply anyone - as long as you have time and passion!

A charity Board will want to reflect the communities it serves and are always keen to have people with ‘lived experience’ around the table who have an affinity with their mission. A diverse group of Trustees on a board with different perspectives are more attuned to issues and therefore allow for better decision making (Lived experience on non-profit boards). Very often they will provide a ‘Buddy’ or offer training to support new members.

There are some cases, when a charity has completed a skills audit and have identified a need for support from a specific skillset e.g. marketing, governance or EDI (Look to the future: Skills Audit).

How do I learn more?

As well as giving us a ring(!) there are lots of courses to attend some free, some paid as well as information hubs where you can listen to other trustees talking through their roles and read various guides – here are links to just a few:

Trustee training modules - ICAEW
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England Wales offer overview of legal and financial responsibilities.

Young Trustees Movement - YouTube
Made up of current and aspiring young trustees, employers and allies with a mission to increase the number of young people on a board.

Help, guidance and practical support - NCVO
Represent 17,000 voluntary organisations, charities, communities and social enterprise set up to support day to day running and champion the voluntary sector.

Reach Volunteering
Database of volunteers and charities seeking volunteers as well as providing guides.

Black On Board - Olmec
Train and mentor candidates to take on Board positions by providing a range of programmes and learning options to support people with a BME background

Getting on Board
Charity which supports people from all sectors of society to become Board Trustees

Women On Boards
Supports its members to gain positions in the boardroom through paid programmes and bursary programmes

Charity Aid Foundation
Offers tools, guides and webinars for Trustees

What’s the time commitment?

It does vary from charity to charity, typically it’s 1-2 days a month and it will vary from month to month (when preparing for the Board meeting). Board meetings are normally held between 4-6 times a year and usually last half a day (although every charity will be different, so do check). It is becoming increasingly common for charities to be open to their Trustees attending meetings either in person or remotely, but again you are advised to check to ensure that you can attend these meetings. In addition, you may be required to sit on a specific advisory group or sub-committee that will look after a specific area. Common examples of sub-committees are finance and audit, nominations and equality, diversity and inclusion.

Is it paid?

Trustee roles are voluntary, but most charities will cover reasonable expenses eg. cost of travel or cover caring costs (this will be outlined at the beginning).

How do you find a Trustee job?

TPP Recruitment advertises Trustee jobs on various job sites (below),including our website and if you register, you can set up job alerts to let you know when new vacancies are added. We can also have a conversation with you to discuss the types of opportunities and organisations you would be interested in becoming a Trustee for and where your skills might be best suited to.

Trustee vacancies are generally advertised on sector job boards Charityjobs, Guardian, Third Sector, Evenbreak, Young Trustee Movement, Reach Volunteering and on the websites of the charities themselves. You can also indicate you are interested in volunteer vacancies on your ‘career interests’ page on LinkedIn or under the’ volunteer experience’ section of your profile. Getting on Board offer a useful, free monthly workshop explaining how to find voluntary roles.

How do I apply?

If you see a Trustee position we’re advertising please give us a call or email or click on the advert link and we’ll send you out further information – usually in the form of a candidate pack. This will give you information on the charity’s mission/strategy, the role requirements/person specification, recruitment timetable and details of how to apply. Most of the time we require an up-to-date CV and a supporting statement which outlines why you’re interested in the role and relevant skills/experience. Read our blog for tips: Supporting statements for Trustees

Interview process

After you’ve sent an application in, we will review against the criteria and invite you to attend a preliminary interview with ourselves. We will then submit your application with an overview to the charity. The charity’s Nomination Committee (members of the current board who are managing the recruitment) will then select who they’d like to interview. At this stage they may well offer you to have a pre-chat with the CEO or current Chair to help you with your preparation.

For the interview the best advice we can give is prepare the same way as if you would a paid role. Do your research, look at website and The Charity Commission for the charity’s annual report and search online for any news. Be ready to give examples of relevant experience, where you feel you can add value and your motivation for wanting to join them. Read our blog: Trustee Interview Guide for more advice and typical questions.

If you would like to discuss this further and find out how we can assist you in finding your first Trusteeship, please get in touch with Emma, Lisa or Matt on 020 7198 6060 or executive@tpp.co.uk.