Why be a trustee?

Understanding trustee motivations may help you recruit more people to your board, says Christine Wykes Driver


Following on from Trustees' Week 2015 there is an interesting Twitter campaign, #whyimatrustee, where trustees talk about their reasons for doing this often thankless role. 

These echo some of the responses we had at our 2014 Trustees' Week event when we asked local trustees to tell us what they found most rewarding about being a trustee. Some of the responses included:


  • Having the opportunity to do something for vulnerable people
  • Broadening my horizons
  • Utilising my professional skills to influence and improve a sector I am interested in
  • Working with others to provide a high quality service
  • Seeing the organisation grow and develop
  • Being a part of decision-making that will impact the community positively
  • Meeting new people, making friends
  • Gaining knowledge, learning new things
  • Being valued by service users, staff, volunteers and other trustees

Sharing the load

At our Trustees’ Week event this year we discussed the thorny topics of collaboration, merger and closure and had a closer look at the trustees’ role in these pivotal moments in a charity’s life cycle. It was clear that more and more is being asked of trustees and most boards would benefit from additional experienced and committed members to share the load.

So trustee recruitment continues to be a critical factor in the sustainability of our sector. While a high proportion of trustees are recruited by word of mouth and introduced by existing board members there are a number of options for recruitment, particularly when you are looking for trustees with specific skills.


Recruitment opportunities

The charity Getting on board promotes the value of board level volunteering and has produced a short video about what trustees can gain from it. They encourage corporate volunteering through signposting for employers and members of professional networks and they will add your charity trustee vacancy to their database for free.

LinkedIn specialist groups such as Charity Finance and Governance UK; Charity Finance; Charity UK; UK Charity Trustees; Charity Network UK; Young Charity Trustees, is also a good place to look.

For other places to advertise, try the list below:

For general resources on trustee recruitment see The Small Charities Coalition

For a personal account of benefits gained from being a trustee read this article from the current Chair of Getting on Board, Become a charity trustee - it changed my life (The Guardian, 8 November 2015)