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Trustees are volunteers too

It’s often overlooked that Trustees are by law, and by nature, volunteers. Without them, there simply wouldn’t be any charities. However, it is estimated that over half of all charities are looking for trustees at any one time and here at VODA, we are receiving an increasing number of requests from North Tyneside organisations who are looking for trustees and assistance to recruit them.

So in the first in a series of articles aimed at helping groups and organisations understand trusteeship, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions around trusteeship.

What is a trustee?

Trustees, board of directors, executive committee – whatever term is used, trustees are the people who have overall responsibility for a charity (or voluntary organisation). As well as legal responsibility, trustees ensure a clear strategy, making sure work and goals are in line with the charity’s purposes.

They safeguard the charity’s assets and contribute to the management of the organisation.

Who can become a trustee?

You must be at least 16 years old to be a trustee of a charity that is a company or a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), or at least 18 to be a trustee of any other sort of charity. Trustees come from all walks of life, and organisations are often looking for a diverse range of ages and backgrounds on their boards.

Some people who fall under the Charity Commission’s automatic disqualification rules are unable to become trustees – see the Charity Commission’s website for details.

What are the benefits of becoming a trustee? 

As well as a great way to meet new people, develop new skills and take on a new challenge, volunteering as a trustee comes with a number of additional benefits, particularly around career and personal development. You will develop skills such as influencing, negotiation, risk management
and gain experience of strategy and leadership. You’ll also develop contacts and network with new people and organisations and help to steer the direction of an organisation or cause you care about.

What time commitment is required?

While each organisation’s required commitment will be slightly different, trustees are usually expected to attend between four and 12 trustee committee meetings per year, including the Annual General Meeting. You may also be expected to be a representative on a sub group or committee,
such as finance or quality assurance, and to attend regular or one-off events.

Do I need training?

Induction and training may be required and will differ across organisations depend on your existing skills. VODA can provide training to new and
existing trustees on their roles and responsibilities, both on an individual and organisational basis, as well as on various aspects of personal
development.

Take a look at our Support for Trustees section on the VODA website for advice and guidance.