More than a quarter of charity trustees have considered quitting because of pressure, survey finds

Research carried out in partnership with Third Sector indicates that almost three quarters of board members think the demands on them are increasing

More than a quarter of charity trustees have thought about quitting because of the demands of the role, a survey carried out in partnership with Third Sector has revealed.

The National Trustee Survey, which was conducted by the research organisation nfpSynergy in September and October, found that 71 per cent of charity board members said they felt that what was required of trustees was increasing and 23 per cent said the pressure had become too much.

When asked if they had thought about stepping down over the requirements, 27 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that they had.

The survey, which was also carried out in partnership with the charity leaders body Acevo and the leadership and governance programme Charity Futures, found that of the respondents who were involved with trustee recruitment as part of their duties, 43 per cent said they felt it had become harder or much harder to bring in new recruits. 

More than four out of 10 of respondents said they spent one or two days on charity business each month (43 per cent), while 27 per cent said they spent between three and five days and 14 per cent said it took up more than five days a month. Sixteen per cent said they spent less than a day a month on charity business.

More positively, researchers found that 81 per cent of respondents said they felt valued by the board.

"This survey is really telling us what many of us have felt, that there is a real issue at the heart of charity governance and we need to wake up start seriously thinking about how we support them," said Sir Stephen Bubb, director of Charity Futures.

He said high-profile issues like the collapse of Kids Company and the fundraising scandal might have had an impact on the pressure on trustees.  

"I think this survey shows it’s gone beyond the usual issues about trustee diversity – you are not going to recruit younger trustees in heavy professional jobs, particularly if you want to increase diversity from minority communities or if you want better gender balance," said Bubb said.

"What we’re seeing is on the current trustee boards is people saying they’re thinking stepping down but then on top of that it’s getting harder to recruit good new trustees – it’s not a good place to be.

"I think we’re at a dangerous point and this is a real warning."

For more full analysis of the survey results, see the November/December edition of Third Sector magazine, or click here

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