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How to become a charity trustee

Anyone has the potential to become a trustee. Whether young, old, male, female a professional or a student, charities are looking for a diverse range of skills and experience. In the NPC’s State of the Sector Programme, only 7% of charity leaders felt that diversity thought there were no benefits to having a diversity at board level. 

What is a charity trustee?

A charity trustee can also be known as a governor, board member, director or committee member. A trustee is often responsible for leading the charity organisation in its mission, ensuring it has funding, it is operating legally and distributing money raised to the appropriate cause.

Charity trustee roles and responsibilities

A trustees’ role can often vary from organisation to organisation depending on the size and nature of the charity. In a large charity, you may find your role is more strategic and involve long-term planning and decision making because there are enough people to carry out the day-to-day running of the charity. In a smaller organisation however, the role may be much more hands-on and involved in the day-to-day.

How to become a trustee for a charity 

There are lots of different ways to become a charity trustee – here are our top ten tips that won’t just help you find trustee vacancies but also help you avoid some of the pitfalls.

  • Some organisations register their charity trustee vacancies in directories, for example take a look at the National Council for Voluntary Organisation’s Trustee Bank 

  • Some charities advertise their vacancies in the local or national press or on websites so don’t ignore the obvious - check the jobs sections. The Guardian, for example, has a webpage where you can find charity trustee jobs

  • You’ll also find links on the Trustees’ Week website - to other directories of trustee vacancies

  • To find a list of trustee vacancies for local charities go to

  • When you find a trustee vacancy, the organisation may ask to meet or even interview you, and you might be asked to fill in an application form

  • Some organisations – like children’s charities and those dealing with vulnerable adults –will require you to have a DBS check

  • In some charities, the trustees are elected by members, so you might need to attend their Annual General Meeting to be formally elected

  • There are a few restrictions on who can become a charity trustee so before taking up your role you will need to confirm that you are eligible to serve - the charity might also carry out its own eligibility checks

  • Word of mouth remains a common way in which trustees are recruited, so if you’re involved with a local charity organisation and would like to become a charity trustee – let them know!

  • Check that the organisation has charity trustees’ liability insurance in place. This cover ensures that trustee liabilities are protected by this specialist trustee insurance cover.
Charity and community
Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.