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Make-up of Board of Trustees

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Interested in becoming a Trustee? – Here’s what you need to know

Many community-minded people apply to become one of the Trustees of a charity whose aims and objectives they care about. However, they should not take on the role unless they are fully aware of what it entails.

There are three basic forms of Trustee:

hlw Keeble Hawson logoThe Lay Trustee

This is someone who is willing to give up their time and energy helping to fulfil the organisation’s charitable purposes. Naturally, they must have both the time and the energy to fulfil this role.

The Trustee with a particular skill

Professionally qualified people can be appointed to the board to perform a particular role, e.g., the legal Trustee or treasurer.

The Trustee with a particular role

This Trustee is appointed because of their position – for instance in hospital charities, where the current clinical director may automatically be on the board.

Beyond these, two other positions are often found on a Trustee board. The first is the chairman, who is appointed by the board to chair meetings and lead the board.

The supervisory independent Trustee’s role is to help ensure the independence of the board and, in the case of any suspected malpractice, provide a whistle-blowing facility for both other board members and charity staff.

When recruiting Trustees, it is important for the board to consider where the skills gaps are. Is there a need for legal advice? Is there a need for someone with business skills? It is worthwhile reviewing the board’s capabilities annually to confirm that they still cover everything the charity is trying to achieve.

Here, it is important to keep in mind its governing document and what this says about the board - particularly, whether it imposes any restrictions on the number of Trustees or its composition.

hlw Keeble Hawson’s dedicated, experienced team provides specialist and comprehensive advice for charities and voluntary organisations.

For more information on which board make-up is best for your organisation and every aspect of charity law, contact Michele Todd at or call 0114 2906207.

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