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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Top five tips for charities recruiting a trustee

This opinion piece is over 8 years old

Debbie Shields believes existing trustees should consider five key elements before recruiting a new board member

So, you’ve identified the need for a new trustee. This may be due to a resignation or because the existing trustees have decided that one or more trustees are needed to help run the charity more effectively. iMultiply Resourcing works with a number of not for profit organisations in Scotland to help them find trustees so we thought we’d share our top five points to consider when looking to fill this type of position.


The current trustees should discuss and clarify what skills, knowledge and experience is needed. It’s useful to consider who would be of advantage to the existing team by identifying skills gaps. You may then find it beneficial to put together a brief person specification and job description.

Debbie Shields
Debbie Shields


A diverse group of trustees is critical. A wide range of perspectives is essential to effective governance. Divergent backgrounds can benefit from tackling the same challenge or idea in differing ways.


There are some restrictions on who can act as a trustee. For example there is a minimum age and individuals can’t be a trustee if they are disqualified under the Charities Act. You can consult the charity regulator for further information on eligibility. Furthermore, it’s also important to consider whether there are any serious conflicts of interest which could affect an appointment.

Attraction and Selection

Consideration needs to be given to how you want to advertise and promote the vacancy. A lot of charities look at online and offline advertising but don’t forget the power of social media and existing networks. Adequate planning should also be given to the interview and selection process to ensure it’s a fair and effective process.


Is the time commitment required clear and upfront and does the potential trustee have the time to commit to this? Moreover, is the individual interested in and clear about what the charity does? Shared values and passion for what the organisation does is bound to lead to a more committed and effective trustee.

iMultiply Resourcing is happy to work with charities looking for assistance planning and executing a recruitment process. Once the successful trustee has been selected consideration should be given to the new trustee induction process, and who will take personal responsibility for this. We’d suggest thought is given to how you can help new trustees understand their responsibilities and the charity’s work.

Debbie Shields is manager of iMultiply Resourcing