The Go Volunteer Glos guide to becoming a Trustee

Over 9,000 people volunteer as Trustees in Gloucestershire, supporting more than 1,800 charities. There’s a constant need to recruit talented and enthusiastic people to help shape the direction of a charity here in Gloucestershire or beyond. So why couldn’t one of those people be you?

Trustees lead charitable organisations. Their role is vital and stimulating, working closely with the Chief Executive to set the strategic direction and ensure the charity is not only reaching its goals, but is forward-thinking and running as efficiently as possible.  

Let’s take a closer look at what it really means to be a Trustee… it may be the perfect position for you!

For more detail about what a charity is, see here (The Good Trustee Guide – What is a Charity).

For a detailed overview of the whole process, see here (How to become a Charity Trustee Guide).

What is a Trustee?

A Trustee is a volunteer who serves on the governing body of a charity; sometimes called the Board of Trustees, Board of Directors, or the Board etc. They are collectively responsible for the general running of the organisation. As the role is voluntary, it’s not generally a paid position (although many charities will pay things like travel or other expenses). But, it’s also not a full-time job. Most Board of Trustees meet monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, in person and/or online. That means you can pursue Trustee positions at several charities and easily do it alongside your regular daytime activities and/or employment… potentially without even leaving home!

Because the Board of Trustees is responsible for such a broad overview of the organisation, most seek to recruit people with a range of different expertise, skills, backgrounds and experiences; for example, business management, human resources, finance, and legal expertise or work/life experience related to the work of the organisation.

What do Trustee’s do?

First and foremost, Trustees make the crucial decisions. They have oversight of the charity’s activities, funds, and future – in other words, they are in charge of the charity’s affairs.

Some of these responsibilities can include:

  • Helping the Chief Executive lead the organisation
  • Contributing skills and expertise to an important cause
  • Leading the strategic development of the organisation
  • Making sure the charity is delivering on their goals
  • Looking after the organisation’s finances
  • Taking care of the charity’s assets (e.g. property).

What are a Trustee’s responsibilities?

Charity Trustees have six legal duties:

  • Ensure a charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit
  • Comply with the charity’s governing document and the law
  • Act in the charity’s best interests
  • Manage the charity’s resources responsibly
  • Act with reasonable care and skill
  • Ensure the charity is accountable.

These are fully explained in the Charity Commission’s guidance CC3 – The Essential Trustee: What you need to know, what you need to do.

Why become a Trustee?

Becoming a Trustee is both a rewarding way to help the causes you care about and/or your community and a way to learn fantastic new skills. It’s an invigorating and dynamic role, which puts you at the very heart of a charity and its work, alongside a team of like-minded people.

There’s a lot you can gain from becoming a Trustee. For example:

  • Learn new skills, such as decision making, negotiation and influencing, thinking strategically, managing relationships and partnerships
  • It is good for your wellbeing – volunteering can boost your mental and physical health, and help you grow your confidence
  • Provide opportunities to go beyond what you do in your day job and home life
  • Build your understanding of the challenges and experiences that others face
  • The benefits of an experiential learning environment – by learning ‘on the job’, you get access to a unique training experience whilst at the same time giving something back
  • It can be a great springboard to a non-executive directorship and other kinds of board positions.

Being a Trustee offers you the opportunity to shape, and be a part of, making real change – just think about how rewarding it is when you actually see your work yielding positive results for a cause you care about!

Who can become a Trustee?

ALMOST ANYONE can volunteer to be a Trustee, regardless of how junior or senior you are in your career, whether you are in paid employment or not, regardless of your ethnicity, class, gender orientation, sexuality, or any other difference. Boards of Trustees thrive on diversity and need a mix of all the different groups within society to deliver robust governance and fulfil a charity’s mission

On-going training for Trustees

Many charities will offer initial and on-going relevant training to support their Trustees in carrying out their duties. You can also access free online training modules for both new Trustees and those wanting to refresh their skills

How do I find Trustee Positions?

The best way is right here on Go Volunteer Glos 

There are other ways of finding Trustee vacancies here in Gloucestershire and across the country, including: 

Specialist Trustee Finder websites:

Professional bodies – for example:

And you can:

  • Search in Google: Type in Trustee+job+[your location] or Trustee+job+[the charitable cause in which you are interested] and it will ‘mine’ trustee vacancies from the websites above, as well as others. Just scroll down past the paid advertisement results and see the roles in the blue section headed ‘Jobs’
  • Follow individual charity social media posts
  • Look at charity newsletters or e-bulletins
  • Speak to recruitment agencies that specialise in Trustee recruitment 
  • Check local noticeboards and newspapers
  • Proactively contact a charity that isn’t currently openly advertising to make a speculative approach

Ready to be a Trustee?

Search for the largest and widest choice of local opportunities!