Finding Trustees

5 August 2020

Did you know 60,000 trustees are called John or David? That’s one in every 12 trustees. So to every John and David keeping voluntary sector boards going – we thank you.

It may not be a surprise to hear that the average trustee is a white man aged over 60. But did you know that fewer than 3% of trustees are under 30 and fewer than 3% are women of colour?

We’ve got another fact for you: if you are looking for a trustee and finding it tough, you’re not alone. 74% of organisations find it difficult to recruit trustees.

The good news is – there’s all sorts of resources out there to help. Visit our Governance and Trustees page for all the links to the suggestions below.


Who can help?

Trustees Unlimited offer a range of trustee recruitment services, including listing your opportunities on their website for free if you are an NCVO member.

And it’s entirely free to list your trustee vacancies on the Do-It Trustee Finder.

Reach Volunteering have two options – a free self -service website to list your vacancies or a paid for service which includes creating an advertising campaign and accessing their network of potential trustees.

Not for profit recruitment agency Prospect Us with high profile clients such as The National Lottery Community Fund have produced model Job Descriptions, Person Specifications and interview questions and a Board Skills Audit.

Getting On Board have a completely free listing service and offer lots of resources, including a fantastic free downloadable practical guide to finding a trustee. It includes an eight step plan on how to recruit trustees and handy checklists like the one below.

Some very quick tips are: work out what is missing from your board, think about why someone should consider becoming a trustee and go out to find new trustees, targeting the places that you think they are most likely to see your advert based on the skills, knowledge and experience that you are looking for.


It’s widely acknowledged that trustee boards should reflect the communities they serve.

But did you know 90% of charities recruit most of their trustees through word-of-mouth and existing networks and only 10% of trustee vacancies are ever advertised!

An open process will widen the net of potential volunteers.


Boards should try to recruit people who think in different ways, as well as those who have different backgrounds – Charity Governance Code

If you want to check how your board measures up, there’s an excellent self-assessment (diagnostic) tool for your board from Charity Governance Code you can use.

Young Trustees

The Young Trustees Movement is on a mission to double the number of trustees aged 30 and under.

26-year-old former Canterbury Christchurch University student, Bronwen Edwards, is looking to be a trustee and was featured in their blog where she says what she thinks about the process. It’s well worth a read.

She says:

“I hadn’t really come across any trustees whilst working who were my age and I really think that that isn’t good enough – young people have so much to offer and by failing to utilise those skills, charities really are missing a trick!

Although I have the time to give, skills to offer and the attitude needed to be a great trustee, the adverts are tied up in legal language, they make it seem like you need some sort of financial qualification and lots seem like they want you to know lots or rich donors and/or a huge contact list of influential people.”


Young people are often “digital natives” and at a time when organisations are moving services online, fundraising online and having to raise their online profile, it’s a vital skill young trustees could offer.

And digital is also being used for the recruitment and induction of trustees. Reach Volunteering CEO Janet Thorne has written this blog about remote recruitment. In it she says:

A strong, well rounded board is particularly important right now. Charities are facing big strategic and complex decisions about their operations, and their future. They are pushing through significant changes, like moving services online,  in weeks rather than years. The board needs to be confident in areas like digital, to be able to balance risk and opportunity and make swift decisions. It is vital to have the right expertise for this around the table – Janet Thorne

She also features in the Young Trustees Movement video about trustee recruitment at the top of this post.

Zoe Amar is also encouraging organisations to recruit a digital trustee. After twelve years as a trustee on a range of boards, she debunks the four myths of digital trusteeship here in this blog  and comments on the 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report for Charity Comms HERE

Most charities (66%) rate their board’s digital skills as low or having room for improvement and more than half (51%) have no digital strategy.

Check out our Governance and Trustees page for all the links to these resources.

In Part Two of this blog series Finding Trustees #2 we share more resources and tackle the question: ‘why become a trustee?’

Read Part Three for information on Supporting Trustees