How to become a charity trustee

07 November 2018

Anyone has the potential to become a trustee. Whether young, old, male, female a professional or a student, charities are looking for a diverse range of skills and experience.

Young people holding hands in a circle

What is a charity trustee?

A charity trustee can also be known as a governor, board member, director or committee member. A trustee is often responsible for leading the charity organisation in its mission, ensuring it has funding, it is operating legally and distributing money raised to the appropriate cause.

Charity trustee roles and responsibilities

A trustees’ role can often vary from organisation to organisation depending on the size and nature of the charity. In a large charity, you may find your role is more strategic and involve long-term planning and decision making because there are enough people to carry out the day-to-day running of the charity. In a smaller organisation however, the role may be much more hands-on and involved in the day-to-day.

How to become a trustee for a charity

There are lots of different ways to become a charity trustee – here are our top ten tips that won’t just help you find trustee vacancies but also help you avoid some of the pitfalls. 
 
  • Some organisations register their charity trustee vacancies in directories, for example Boardmatch Ireland https://www.boardmatchireland.ie/  
  • Some charities advertise their vacancies in the local or national press or on websites so don’t ignore the obvious - check the jobs sections.  
  • When you find a trustee vacancy, the organisation may ask to meet or even interview you, and you might be asked to fill in an application form 
  • Some organisations – like children’s charities and those dealing with vulnerable adults – will require you to be Garda Vetted
  • In some charities, the trustees are elected by members, so you might need to attend their Annual General Meeting to be formally elected 
  • There are a few restrictions on who can become a charity trustee so before taking up your role you will need to confirm that you are eligible to serve - the charity might also carry out its own eligibility checks 
  • Word of mouth remains a common way in which trustees are recruited, so if you’re involved with a local charity organisation and would like to become a charity trustee – let them know! 
  • Check that the organisation has charity trustees’ liability insurance in place. This cover ensures that trustee liabilities are protected by this specialist trustee insurance cover.