Trustees should not be paid, sector survey finds

Eighty-two per cent of respondents to a Directory of Social Change survey thought trustees should not be paid beyond the reimbursement of their expenses.

About 900 people replied to the survey, which was posted in the DSC's November email bulletin.

One respondent said: "The fact that trustees give their time and expertise freely allows them to view the affairs of a charity in a way that is difficult for paid staff to achieve. If trustees are to be paid, why not simply hand governance over to the chief executive and his directors?"

However, 18 per cent thought that charities should be able to pay trustees. Some felt that paying trustees was the only way to ensure the right mix of skills and diversity on their board.

One person responded: "If trusteeship is always unpaid, you often only get the people who can afford to be a trustee. Is this really equality?"

The DSC opposes trustee remuneration. Ben Wittenberg, director of policy and research at the DSC, said: "At what point do trustees develop an employer-employee relationship, and what are the legal implications of that?"

He said the idea that trustee remuneration would lead to better governance was misleading. "It glosses over the fact that governance is complex, and obstructs what the best ways to recruit and develop trustees are," he said.

Last month, an Acevo survey of 418 chief executives found that 15 per cent were in favour of paying trustees (Third Sector, 28 November). In its report on the findings, the chief executives body argued that charities should be given more freedom to choose the governance model best suited to their needs, including paying trustees.

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