How to become a charity trustee

29 October 2020

Anyone has the potential to become a charity trustee. Getting on Board has produced some crucial guidance, the value of which we hope will be felt for years to come.

A diverse group of people meet for a video call

What is a charity trustee?

A charity trustee is often responsible for leading the charity organisation in its mission, deciding how its purpose will be carried out and ensuring it is operating legally.

A well-managed charity should have a diverse board of trustees bringing different skills, experience and knowledge together to enable more informed decisions.

The importance of diversity at board level

We have seen in our research over the last few years that lack of diversity at board level has been an increasing concern.

Getting on Board first commented on the issue following our 2018 research and we've since followed up to monitor the situation. Our August 2020 research1 found that 35% of charities are concerned about this risk in the short-term (up 6% compared to 2019). In the medium-term, this concern has increased by 11% year on year.

Without this diversity, charities feel they run the risk of being out of touch with beneficiaries and potential new supporters.

One of the biggest areas where charities felt they needed to diversify was age. Over a third felt they needed to bring younger people onto boards2. We carried out a further piece of research, surveying 500 people aged 18-243 to delve deeper, and found that almost two in five would be more encouraged to become a trustee if they knew more about the role and how to become one.

Helping more people to become charity trustees

Recognising how the lack of understanding around this vital role was acting as a barrier for those wanting to become a charity trustee, it was clear that guidance was needed. Naturally, we wanted to support Getting on Board in the production of this trustee guide.

The guide includes topics;

  • What is a charity trustee?
  • Preparing yourself to become a trustee
  • How to find and apply for a trustee role
  • Being a trustee

1 YouGov research 250 senior charity leaders August 2020 (commissioned by Ecclesiastical)

2 FWD research 200 senior charity leaders March 2019 (commissioned by Ecclesiastical)

3 OnePoll research 500 UK adults aged 18-24 October 2019 (commissioned by Ecclesiastical)