Trustees Week 2nd – 6th November

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This week, in Trustees Week, from Monday 2nd to Friday 6th November, we celebrate the contribution that trustees make towards the work of charities.

The contribution of trustees

Charity trustees have been described by the Charity Commission as the ‘social muscle’ of the sector. Largely unseen, and without financial reward, trustees are the stewards of over £75 billion of charity income each year and lead the way in ensuring that the 167,000 charities across England and Wales deliver on their mission.

There are around 850,000 charity trustees in England and Wales, and their average age is 69.  However, about 86,000 are between the ages of 16 and 34, which is encouraging in itself.

Trustees’ service and work is valued at a financial equivalent of £3.5 billion. That’s a remarkable figure and trustees are to be celebrated and commended for their work and commitment.

Reliance on the charity sector is growing, as charities take increasing responsibility for the delivery of public services. The public is aware of charities’ growing relevance to their daily lives., and public awareness of having benefited, or knowing someone who has, from the work of a charity is on the rise. So, the roles and functions of trustees are more important than ever, as is an understanding of their roles.

Some more facts and figures

Let’s look at some additional key facts from research conducted in 2017 for the Charity Commission.

  • The average age of trustees falls within the 55-64 bracket; 51 per-cent, unsurprisingly, are retired.
  • 93% trustees regard their role as important or very important, that is it say they feel it’s worthwhile
  • 71% of trustees are recruited informally
  • In 80% of charities trustees play both a governance role and an executive role – they have no staff or volunteers who they can ask for support or advice
  • Trustees feel they lack relevant legal, digital, fundraising, marketing, and campaigning skills at board level
  • They are concerned about their skills in dealing with fraud and external cyber-attack
  • Trustees seek support and advice from within their peer group - 80% regard this as their most important internal source of advice and support
  • Trustees donate almost 5 hours a week to their trustee roles
  • Motivation matters – personal interest in the aims of the charity, relevant skills, and a desire to give something back to society are the three main reasons for becoming a trustee.


Roles and responsibilities

Trustees make a vital contribution to our society and communities up and down the country rely on their voluntary efforts. It is heartening that, despite the demands on their time and expertise, trustees are overwhelmingly positive about their role.

In the 2017 research, 85% of trustees reported that they were fully or mainly aware of their responsibilities when they were appointed, and this increased to 90% being fully or mainly aware of their legal responsibilities as a board member. The roles and responsibilities of different types of trustee are complex however, and we recently published a series of articles on the specific roles of Custodian, Sole, Holding and Managing Trustees. If you are a trustee, do you know which you are?

For further advice and guidance on roles and responsibilities contact [email protected] or phone 01362 698216. And find out more about Trustees’ Week here and here