top of page

Trustees' Week Blog #1 - Top tips on recruiting a Trustee

Welcome to Trustees' Week, now in its 12th year!

There are over 250,000 trustees in Scotland who guide the work of our vibrant voluntary sector.

Throughout this week, we're featuring daily blogs by Abi Clarke, our Development Officer, who has based her blog topics from conversations with various organisations across Moray over the last 6 months.

Read Abi's first blog below.


There’s no denying that charities are facing increased financial pressures at a time when demand for their support and services is on a considerable rise.

Therefore, it’s essential that organisations are not just recruiting trustees to sit on their boards, but also trying to find a good match, so that challenges and choppy waters can be navigated.

To begin with, let’s start with the basics, a definition of a trustee.

Trustees are the people who lead the charity and decide how it is run; they share ultimate responsibility for governing a charity and directing how it is managed. They can take various names or titles -- including trustee, board member, management committee member or director.

When thinking about a recruiting a trustee, ask yourself is it really a trustee that you need?

Do you need short term help for a project or some advice? Could the role be outsourced or a could you use a volunteer to give some pro-bono time?

While often trustees play a hands-on role in smaller charities, it’s important to separate what needs doing from strategic work from the start.

A trustee is a long-term commitment, so taking a strategic approach in recruitment will save you time and effort in the long run.

Now that you have decided to recruit a trustee, below are some tips to consider in this process:

1) Be clear why you need a trustee. Maybe you’ve identified a skills gap in your current board or maybe you’re recruiting a trustee, because someone has stepped down. Either way, it’s vital that you are clear (in a written and defined way!) specifying the role, ensuring the role description aligns with your charity’s objectives and values.

This will be essential too for the promotion and recruitment of role. People often want to know the bigger picture about how they match with their own values and experience to your organisation’s. Include what is required of the trustee (but don’t list every legal duty of a trustee at this point), tell people how much time they will need to give for meetings and what types of activities they might be expected to perform.

2) How to identify a good trustee. In the recruitment process, look for individuals who have transferable skills, or a skill set that you have identified – this could be previous community knowledge or experience within the voluntary or depending on the role, even the private or public sector. Think about what experience they can bring and will need to bring to the role – the more specific you are, the likelihood is greater that you will find an appropriate candidate. This role description is an example that shows how it can be defined.

But most importantly, in this recruitment process, you should understand and priortise the benefits of what diversity, equity and inclusion can and should be bringing to your board membership.

3) Advertise – with your close networks and wider, externally. Recruiting and sharing recruitment messages within your networks, has advantages as the individuals already know what you’re about, and possess a knowledge your charity’s objectives and values. Externally, there are a number of sites where you can advertise -- Good Moves, Volunteering Scotland and a new tsiMORAY Hot List. You can also advertise through local media, often by way of offering a story or update, and don’t forget about using your social media pages too.

4) Confirm final vetting of trustee. You will need to make sure that any candidate is complying with the charity’s governing document; ask for references; complete a disclosure if necessary; ensure that the candidate is not prohibited by statutory or legal regulations from taking up this role and finally sign the appropriate forms to confirm the individual is legally taking on the trustee role. This will include completing a Trustee Declaration Form for OSCR which all new trustees should sign to confirm they are legally taking up the appointment.

5) Don’t be tempted to skip a good, solid on-boarding process. This should include a well thought out induction and training. This is crucial for new trustees to settle in and make them feel they have made a good choice, too! During this time, it’s also a good way to introduce the charity’s key policies and procedures such as Data Protection, Health and Safety (more about key policies can be found in this link.)

Consider developing a simple Trustee Induction Pack that can include:

- your mission and vision statements

- most recent annual accounts

- strategic plans

- legal guidance including the governing document and charity governance code

- trustee’s role description and codes of conduct

Good luck with your search!

If you have any questions in relation to this article or would like to discuss your current governance, please contact me, Abi Clarke at

bottom of page