Over half of charities struggling to recruit trustees

16 November 2022

New research* from Ecclesiastical Insurance has revealed over half (51%) of charity boards are struggling to recruit new trustees.

Ecclesiastical asked 250 charity trustees whether they were struggling to recruit to their boards and found that over half (51%) found it difficult. This increased to three out of five (60%) charities when asked whether it had become more difficult in the last 12 months.

Additionally, over a third (37%) of trustees said they had seen an increase in resignations in the last 12 months.

The survey was commissioned to coincide with Getting on Board’s Festival of Trusteeship, a week-long series of events sponsored by Ecclesiastical which ran between 7 and 11 November.

Over half (54%) of charities said they had vacancies on their trustee boards. The same number (54%) said they struggle to recruit trustees from a range of social and ethnic backgrounds – an increase on last year where 48% said they struggled. Two thirds (66%) said they were actively seeking trustees from a more diverse background while almost three quarters (71%) said that their charity board was already made up of trustees from a diverse range of social and ethnic backgrounds.

The majority of respondents (80%) said that they agreed board diversity was a good thing, while almost four in five (79%) of trustees said that charities need to do more to encourage trustees from a wider range of ages, backgrounds and communities.

The survey also asked trustees what they thought charities could do to encourage more trustees from different backgrounds.

The main responses given were to promote the benefits of being a trustee to a wider audience (51%), to demonstrate how being a trustee can boost CVs (43%), to more actively recruit young people (42%) and to encourage more flexible meeting options (39%).

Faith Kitchen, customer segment director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “The findings from this research show us that charities are facing a real challenge when filling positions on their trustee boards.

“With over half of charities saying they have vacancies on their boards there is a real need for charities to look at how and where they bring trustees in from. The positive news is that two thirds say that they are looking to bring in trustees from a more diverse background.

“By encouraging trustees from a wider range of ages, backgrounds and communities charities can bring in new ideas, identify different opportunities and safeguard against potential risks they’re not currently sighted on.”

Penny Wilson, CEO at Getting On Board, said: “It's really positive that this research commissioned by Ecclesiastical shows a growing interest from trustees in diversifying their boards.

“Finding trustees through open recruitment gives charities the best chance of finding the skills, knowledge and experience they need. Building strong, diverse boards is all the more important in the current cost-of-living crisis."

Visit the website for more information about Getting On Board.

* OnePoll survey of 250 charity trustees conducted between 26 October – 2 November 2022