Charities come in a range of sizes and forms, working to meet all kinds of needs and provide a variety of services. One thing all charities have in common is that they all depend on their trustees.
Charity trustees are the people who are legally responsible for the control, management and administration of a charity. In the charity’s governing document, they may be known as trustees, directors, board members, governors, committee members, a council of management or charity trustees.
- Responsible. You and your fellow trustees will work together to make the decisions that really matter, about the charity’s finances, activities and plans for the future. You will give leadership and direction. You may employ staff. This means you will need to give enough time to carry out your role, for example preparing for and attending trustee meetings.
- Rewarding. You will have the opportunity to learn and develop new skills, meet people who share your passion for a particular cause or issue, and know that you are making a difference through the work of your charity.
- Relevant. The skills and experience you gain may open up new opportunities for you, for example in employment.
What should you think about before becoming a trustee?
Charity trustees play an essential role in running charities, bringing valuable experience, skills and knowledge to the organisation and the charitable sector.
They are the people who have overall control of the charity and responsibility for making sure it is doing what it was set up to do and is operating within its charitable purposes for the public benefit. They lead the charity and decide how it is run.
While being a charity trustee can be an interesting and rewarding role, trustees should be aware of the significant level of responsibility involved. It is also essential that there are no legal or other barriers to a trustee's appointment.
For more information on the duties and responsibilities of charity trustees, as well as guidance on what new trustees should be aware, please read our Running your charity guidance.
Where can I get help finding a charity that I could be a trustee of?
There are many different organisations that advertise trustee vacancies or provide matching or recruitment services. Alternatively, you may wish to look at the online register of chairites for areas or organisations you are interested in and approach a charity.
Further information may be available from the following organisations and websites:
- NICVA (Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action) (external link)
- Volunteer Now (external link)
- Community NI (external link)