Find Out More About Being a Trustee in Trustees Week

4 November 2021

There are many organisations on the Isle of Wight looking for Trustees, but what does it involve?

Every organisation is different, but below is a basic outline from NCVO.

What is a trustee?

Trustees have the overall legal responsibility for a charity. It is very important that a charity can identify its trustees. This is not always as straightforward as it sounds. The trustees are the individuals who take decisions at the governing body of the charity, regardless of their actual title.

Sometimes the charity’s trustees are given other titles, such as governors, councillors, management committee members or directors.

What matters is the role, not the title. Trustees have specific duties that should be set out in an organisation’s constitution or governing document.

The role of trustees

Trustees operate within two sets of formal rules, the governing document which may be called rules or a constitution or the trust deed. In a charitable company, the governing document will be called the Memorandum and Articles of Association or the Articles for short.

The second set of rules are those in the law, particularly the acts which govern their type of organisation, for example, the Trustee Act 2000 (for unincorporated charities), Insolvency Acts, Companies Acts and Charity Acts.

Trustees work collectively as a board and take decisions at formal board meetings. Once a decision has been collectively made all trustees are bound to support that decision.

In practice, many trustee boards delegate day to day or operational matters to individual trustees, volunteers, committees, staff or agents. In larger charities the trustee board might delegate the day to day running of the organisation along with some decision making powers to a staff team via a chief executive.

Who can be a trustee?

Most people can become trustees. Trustees generally need to be over the age of 18. They cannot have been previously disqualified as a trustee or company director, be an undischarged bankrupt or have certain unspent criminal convictions.

Trustee skills

All trustees should be able to demonstrate values such as honesty and integrity. They should be committed to the charity’s aims and values.

In addition, there are many different skills, experiences, attributes and areas of knowledge that charities welcome from their trustees:

  • The ‘hard’ skills – legal, financial, management and so on – which are necessary to understand some of the complex decisions to be taken
  • The ‘soft’ skills – boards of trustees need people who can encourage team working, problem solving, asking difficult questions, decision making and, yes, to make people laugh!
  • Trustee boards should understand the communities they serve. People with knowledge of the community – for example, as users of services or as local residents – can make very valuable trustees.

Knowledge of a charity’s field of work or good people skills are just as important as technical knowledge or professional expertise. Trustees can and indeed should supplement their own skills with professional advice where required. Indeed, an effective trustee board should draw on a range of skills, knowledge, experiences and attributes.

The above is taken from NCVO website. For more detail, see here: Home — NCVO Knowhow

If you would like to know more about which organisations are looking for Trustees, please take a look on the website or get in touch with

Trustees Week – Showcasing the work of charity trustees