If your charity has identified a need for new trustees then the next step is to find potential trustees.
Vacancies arise for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is because trustees have resigned, but at other times the existing trustees decide that one or more new trustees with specific skills are needed to help the charity to run more effectively.
In May 2018 the Charity Commission published new guidance which gives some helpful pointers for charity trustees who are seeking to recruit new members to the board of trustees.
The guidance is called “Finding New Trustees”.
The first steps identified in the Charity Commission’s guidance are for the trustees to agree what skills, experience and knowledge are needed, and then write those down in the form of a short job description and a person specification. They also suggest that the trustees agree responsibilities between them and a process for recruitment. Whilst some of the work can be delegated to a sub-group, it is important to remember that whole trustee board remains in full control of the process and the decisions.
Of course, the trustees must check the charity’s governing document to make sure they appoint new trustees in a proper and legal way.
The Charity Commission’s guidance offers insight about what kind of person will make a good trustee, and suggests various ways of finding potential trustees: for example, advertising, personal recommendations, trustee brokerage services (eg Trustee Bank, operated by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations), recruiting internally or from the charity’s users/beneficiaries, networking with other charities, membership of umbrella bodies such as the Small Charities Coalition.
The guidance recommends ways of vetting prospective trustees, and then sets out the practical steps charity trustees should take when they are ready to appoint a new trustee. It also emphasises the importance of making a new trustee feel welcome; to develop their skills, ensure that they are familiar with the charity’s work and to introduce them to other trustees and key members of staff.
The latter part of the Charity Commission’s guidance recommends steps to support new trustees and provides some information about how new trustees should be inducted.
- Jane Whitfield, June 2018