Trustee diversity

Good leadership is the key to all successful organisations!

A good board of trustees can make all the difference to the charity’s future, creating a shared vision and purpose. It is important to take the role of trustees seriously, ensuring that the board is fit for purpose.

Charities should undertake regular reviews of their board to;

Evaluate their own performance

Evaluate their collective skills and abilities through a skills audit

Evaluate their ability to anticipate the needs of the organisation

If a weakness is identified as a result of this evaluation, then the trustees may wish to consider recruiting new trustees to the board to fill the gap. However, you should always consult your governing documents first as this will state the number of trustees you should have and how they are appointed.

Advertising / recruiting a trustee

Recent figures show that there are approximately 167,000 charities in England and Wales and some 850,000 trustees. Not surprisingly the average age for a trustee is 59! Although, there are 86,000 trustees aged below 34.

Bearing this in mind the most successful methods of recruitment are likely to be word of mouth and approaching current volunteers to become trustees, but other methods include social media, advertising and trustee recruitment websites. A local university and their students’ union may also be a good place to target the younger generation.

When recruiting new trustees ensure that the correct checks are carried out and that they are over the age of 18, or 16 if the charity is a company or charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).  If you ask someone who benefits from the charity to become a trustee, you must manage any potential conflicts of interest if they continue to receive those benefits.

Organisations that can assist in the recruitment of trustees include Reach and the Small Charities Coalition (details available through the Charity Commission website).

Trustee induction

Once you have found the right candidate it is important to ensure that they feel welcome and are given both the time and resources to learn about your organisation.

An induction pack could include the charity’s governing documents, your strategy, the latest annual report and accounts, information regarding the frequency and timings of board meetings, a copy of the previous year’s board minutes, organisational structure, policy documents (e.g. expenses policy, conflict of interest declaration, volunteering policy) and, details of the  background and history of the charity.

In addition, all trustees should be given a copy of the charity commission guidance ‘The essential Trustee (CC3)’ and ‘Charity trustee: what’s involved (CC3a)’ to ensure that they understand their role and responsibilities.

Other useful resources include the good governance code. There are 7 principles.

A copy of the code can be downloaded from

1.     Organisational purpose

2.     Leadership

3.     Integrity

4.     Decision-making, risk and control

5.     Board effectiveness

6.     Diversity

7.     Openness and accountability

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