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Struggling to find the right trustee for your charity?

5th December 2016 by Sam Freeman

Categories: Charity News
Tags: , , , , ,

Current Board struggling to cope with the responsibilities they have? 

Trustee departing or served the maximum number of years allowed?

Whatever the reason, it can sometimes feel like searching for and appointing an additional member of your governing board is harder than winning the lottery.

Therefore, we have put together a checklist which will hopefully make the process a little easier!

  • Think carefully about what you are looking for. What skills will the trustee need to have? Do you want or need them to have any particular expertise or knowledge? If they are replacing an existing trustee, what did the outgoing individual bring to the charity? If you are seeking an additional member of the board, what skills and experience is your organisation currently missing?
  • Advertise the position carefully. Make sure that you are giving any potential applicant an accurate picture of what you are looking for and what the role will entail. This way you are more likely to attract the right candidate.
  • Consider the best method(s) of advertising the role. Do any of the charity’s existing trustees, members or contacts know of anyone that they think might be the right fit? Do you have any businesses, networking groups or other contacts that can publicise the vacancy? Would an advert in the local paper be of any benefit? Try to advertise via as diverse a range of methods as you can.
  • Have a vetting procedure in place for applicants. Ask candidates to confirm in writing that they are not disqualified from acting as a trustee and check that this is in fact the case. Carry out a conflicts search. If your charity works with vulnerable adults and/or children then you will also be likely to be under a duty to carry out a DBS (previously known as a CRB) check.
  • Make sure that the appointment complies with your charity’s constitution. Is there a restriction on who can be a trustee? Is there a limit on how many trustees you can have? If your current governing document is too restrictive, you might want to consider updating it (further advice on this is set out in the previous article).
  • Do you have an induction process? If so make sure that you follow it. If not, think about the information and training the incoming trustee will need. At the very least they will need to be given a copy of the charity’s governing document, any policies and procedures with which they will need to comply and you will need to update any conflicts of interest register that you have.

Remember that having new trustees can be a very rewarding thing for charities. It brings in new ideas, new perspectives and (hopefully) additional enthusiasm. Just make sure you select the right person, and appoint them in the correct way.

If you would like any further information on this topic, or other matters relating to charities,  please contact Sam Freeman on 01202 557256 or email


Sam Freeman

Partner — Corporate and Commercial

Direct dial: 01202 205024 (please note no voicemail)


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Sam’s particular specialisms include share and assets acquisitions and disposals, company restructures, shareholder agreements and partnerships. Sam enjoys helping people succeed in business regardless of whether the client is a small local set up or a large national organisation. Whatever the concern, Sam provides a calm personable approach to his work ensuring clients are guided in a practical straightforward manner.

Away from work Sam has recently become a dad for the first time, although when the time permits he enjoys playing cricket and pursuing the never ending task of trying to lower his golf handicap.

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