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volunteer as a trustee

How to become a trustee

All voluntary organisations are governed by a board of unpaid volunteers, that’s what makes an organisation a “voluntary organisation”.  People who give their time to govern organisations are sometimes called directors, board members or trustees.  To keep it simple we use the term trustee.

Volunteering as a trustee gives you the opportunity to get involved with an organisation or cause that you really care about.  You will help them succeed and  ensure that the organisation does what it is supposed to do.  Being a trustee is a responsible but rewarding way to volunteer.

As the time commitment is relatively small, it’s good for people with busy lives.  You will be expected to attend meetings at regular intervals, perhaps monthly or six-weekly, and you may get involved in some work between these meetings.

Being a trustee is a brilliant way to develop your skills.  It gives you a range of experiences that are useful to employers (in fact some employers are so supportive of volunteering as a trustee that they offer time off for their staff).

What do trustees actually do?

Trustees make sure that an organisation:

  • is legally and financially compliant – that it is well run;
  • does what it was set up to do and sticks to its mission, vision and values;
  • follows what is set out in the governing document or constitution;
  • has well managed and supported paid staff and volunteers; and
  • is accountable.

Who can volunteer as a trustee?

Anyone can volunteer as a trustee.  You don’t need to have years of experience of as a corporate executive.  Professional experience can be useful, but lived experience is just as important.  Your perspective on an issue as a member of a specific community, age group, as someone who has been involved with a service, or who lives in a particular location is just as valuable.

The more diverse the board in terms of experience the more likely it is to be more equitable in the decisions it makes.  You do need to be committed to the role as it is a vital an important one, so you should look for an organisation that you value or one which does work in an area that you feel passionate about.

Search our database for current trustee vacancies or keep in touch with the latest new trustee opportunities as well as tips on being a trustee by signing up to our dedicated trustee newsletters, Get on Board Edinburgh.

You can search for opportunities or signup to our trustee newsletters by clicking on the buttons opposite (or below on a mobile device).