Rodney Buse: These are trying times for finding trustees

The sector needs a centralised system, says the chair of Charity trustee Networks

Rodney Buse
Rodney Buse

There are about 927,000 trustee appointments in England and Wales each year. If people serve for an average of seven or eight years each, that makes 2,500 appointments a week. And that figure might double if members of management committees of unregistered charities were added.

It is often reported how difficult it is to find new trustees, yet would-be board members also say they have difficulty finding appropriate positions. In such a diverse sector, it is unlikely that a single agency could meet the needs of all potential trustees. It is therefore important for charities engaged in trustee recruitment to work together to improve a market that currently seems less effective than it might be.

Charity Trustee Networks recently launched, a web-based service. This includes vacancies from CTN members as well as advertisements from local volunteer centres and vacancies contained in YouthNet's national volunteering database at

This is a good start. However, it is only part of what is necessary: there is a limit to what can be delivered through web-based systems. We also need to improve our ability to recruit the right people for the right charities by working with organisations that deliver face-to-face brokering services.

The combination of the current economic climate and charities' increasing dependence on contracts will probably lead to an increase in demand for trustees with sound experience of risk management and working in a competitive environment. This will make recruitment even more challenging and will make it essential for charities to provide good support and induction processes.

This is why I believe it is important that charities such as CTN join with others to enhance the effectiveness of trustee recruitment. We need to raise the profile of trusteeship among people from all backgrounds and collaborate to fill identified gaps in provision. If you are interested, please email

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