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Recruiting and inducting trustees

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What you need to consider when you are recruiting for positions on the board.

A governing body must ensure it has enough trustees and plan for succession. The board should ensure its own effectiveness and renewal. To help, it is a good idea to evaluate the board annually by considering the following:

  • Have you got enough trustees with the right knowledge, experience and skills?
  • Do your trustees need training or support to do their jobs effectively?
  • Do you need new trustees and where will we find them?

If you decide you need new trustees, you need to carefully consider the following elements of the recruitment and induction process. 

Before you recruit

In order to find the best candidates to meet the needs of the organisation, it is essential to have clearly defined goals for your trustee recruitment. Below are some tips help:

  • Step into the shoes - what would help someone decide to join your board; and what would help you identify the skills, experiences and qualities you need? 
  • A statement of responsibilities (or job description) can help the prospective trustee understand the role.
  • Conducting a trustee skills audit of your existing board can help you identify the skills, qualities and experiences you want in a new trustee. This also helps the trustee identify what they can bring to board membership.
  • Check the terms of office for your trustees and ensure new trustees know how long they are expected to serve.
  • Check your governing document for the formal process of appointment or election.
  • Agree internally how to decide if:
    • the new trustee is the best person
    • your board is right for them
    • the recruitment process requires an interview or meeting with the chair
    • good prospects should be asked to observe a board meeting before committing to the role.
  • Create a succession plan for if you cannot find the right trustee. This could mean hiring more staff with new skills at different levels.

Selecting new trustees

Prior to the selection process, charities must be aware of the rules regarding eligibility and automatic disqualification of trustees. For information and guidance on what this means for your charity, visit our page on trustee disqualification.

The procedures for electing or appointing new trustees are usually set out in a charity’s governing document. Any selection method used must be consistent with these procedures. Below are some of the most common way charities can approach the selection process:

  • Following a very formal process like their staff recruitment. For example, by advertising a vacancy, shortlisting candidates based on a CV and the person specification and then conducting a formal interview.
  • Follow an informal process, meeting with each candidate and inviting those that are suitable and interested to observe a board meeting and meet trustees.
  • The final decision might be made by members. Some membership organisations help members choose between candidates. For example, by circulating candidate biographies to members before the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and alerting members to the role, skills and attributes required.
  • If members elect the trustees at the AGM, the existing trustees may suggest which candidates they feel are most suitable but will not have the final say on who is appointed.

For more information on recruiting trustees, take a look at our Trustee Recruitment section or browse the links at the bottom of this page. 


Induction is vital. It is a gateway for both new trustees - helping them to get up to speed with the role, the organisation and their legal responsibilities - and for employees and volunteers. 

Induction ensures and can provide evidence that the people in your organisation have an awareness and understanding of key policies and procedures such as equal opportunities, health and safety, and data protection. Your trustee induction programme should include:

  • meetings and introductions to other trustees, employees, beneficiaries, service users etc
  • invitations to events, meetings and presentations
  • documents for a trustee induction pack
  • buddying or coaching.

Related NCVO guides and resources

Useful organisations

  • Trustees Unlimited is a specialist trustee recruitment agency who offer a 10% discount for NCVO members on their recruitment services.
Page last edited Apr 12, 2022

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