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. 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—whether referred to as a board of directors, an executive committee, or simply trustees—are the individuals entrusted with overall responsibility for a charity or voluntary organisation. As well as legal responsibility, trustees shape a clear strategy, ensuring that their work aligns with the charity’s core purposes. They safeguard the organisation’s assets and actively contribute to its management.

Who can become a trustee?

To serve as a trustee, you must be at least 16 years old for charities registered as companies or charitable incorporated organizations (CIOs). For other types of charities, the minimum age requirement is 18. Trustees come from diverse backgrounds, and organisations actively seek a mix of ages and experiences on their boards.

However, it’s essential to note that certain individuals fall under the Charity Commission’s automatic disqualification rules, rendering them ineligible for trusteeship. See the Charity Commission’s website for details.

What are the benefits of becoming a trustee?

Volunteering as a trustee offers more than just a chance to give back. It’s an opportunity to connect with new people, learn new skills, and take on new challenges. Beyond personal growth, trustees gain valuable experience in areas such as influencing, negotiation, risk management, and strategic leadership. You will also develop contacts and network with 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 4 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?

The need for induction and training will differ across organisations, depending 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

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


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