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Trustee recruitment and induction

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

Before you recruit

The clearer you are about the aims of trustee recruitment will mean a more effective and efficient method of developing the board.  It will also help in finding candidates of the right calibre who meet the needs of the organisation.

  • Step into the shoes of your prospective trustee - what would help them make a decision about joining your board; and what would help you identify the skills, experiences and qualities you need?
  •  Have a statement of responsibilities ("job description") can help the prospective trustee find out more about their role.
  • Conduct a "skills audit" of your board can help you identify the skills, qualities and experiences you are looking for in a new trustee. It also helps the new trustee identify what they can bring to board membership.
  • Decide on a form of selection - how do you decide whether the new trustee is the best person? How does that trustee decide whether your board is right for them? An informal meeting with the chair? Attending a board meeting as an observer?  A form of interview?
  • Have you checked your governing document for the formal process of appointment or election?
  • Have a succession plan? Do you have terms of office for your trustees? Do new trustees know how long they are expected to serve?

Trustee recruitment and induction course

Our Studyzone course on trustee recruitment and induction covers everything from planning the process, promoting your vacancy and making the selection, to evaluation and induction.

It also comes with a host of downloadable templates, questionnaires and checklists to help you get the best people on your board.

Free for NCVO members or buy this course from as little as £8.99 now

Selecting new trustees

Prior to the selection process, charities must be aware of existing and new 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. For example, if members elect the trustees at the AGM, the existing trustees might be able to suggest which candidates they feel are most suitable but will not have the final say on who is appointed.

Some charities follow a very formal process, similar to that used to recruit staff – for example, by advertising a vacancy, shortlisting candidates based on a CV and trustee person specification and conducting a formal interview.

Some charities follow an informal process, meeting with each candidate and inviting those that are suitable and interested to observe a board meeting and meet trustees.

In some charities, the final decision might not be made by trustees but by members. Some membership organisations help members choose between candidates – for example, by:
Circulating candidate biographies to members before the AGM and alerting members to the role, skills and attributes required of trustees


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 will include a variety of activities spread over a period of time, including:

  • 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

How to guides

Find out more

Good Practice in Trustee Recruitment (Toolkit)
This toolkit gives practical advice on seeking the best people to govern your organisation. You could introduce the 10-step process to trustees, or delegate recruitment tasks to staff members where appropriate.

Trustee Recruitment for Small Organisations
Developed with small voluntary organisations in mind, this guide will help you find, recruit, induct and keep trustees.

Trustees Unlimited - Specialist trustee recruitment agency

Page last edited Sep 28, 2018

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