Reach Responds to National Shortage of Charity Trustees

"Don't just stand there"

TrusteeWorks aims to close recruitment gap and improve governance

With close to half of the UK’s charities reporting that they have vacancies on their governing boards, a major new initiative to boost trustee recruitment has been launched by Reach. Called TrusteeWorks, the new service is setting out to raise awareness amongst thousands of existing and potential skilled volunteers of the rewards and challenges involved in being a trustee. And organisations of all sizes are being offered specialist help and assistance to bring fresh talent onto their boards.


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The launch by Reach of TrusteeWorks comes in the wake of a hard-hitting review of charity trusteeship in the UK. Produced by New Philanthropy Capital, ‘Board Matters’ claimed that charitable trusteeship “is not up to scratch” and identified a shortage of new trustees as one of the major reasons.

“Recruitment of new trustees is getting harder, and nearly half of charities have vacancies on their board” says the report. It goes on to point out that “less than five per cent of people are aware that they can support a charity by becoming a trustee.”

The report says action on recruitment is important to address the shortage of trustees, and also to improve diversity, a lack of which can undermine a charity’s mission. The report warns that “a homogeneous board will miss out on the benefits that come from having people with different backgrounds and experiences working together as a team.”

Janet Thorne, one of the mangers who is co-ordinating the new TrusteesWork service, says Reach is only too aware of the importance of trustee recruitment.

“It’s because we are so committed to help improve governance in the voluntary sector that we decided to create a new focus for our expertise in skilled volunteering” she says.  “We knew from conversations with many of the organisations we work with that finding the right people, and persuading them to become trustees, is often a major headache. At the same time, we knew that many of our thousands of skilled volunteers were simply not aware of the need for trustees or the rewards that the role can offer. We think TrusteeWorks provides a really effective response to both sides of the issue.”


Equipped with its own new dedicated website, TrusteeWorks sets out to be a unique ‘one stop shop’ for organisations of all sizes, from small community groups to large national charities. It provides resources and advice to help them identify prospective trustees with the right skills and experience for the role. The actively managed recruitment services on offer are tiered, to provide different levels of support. All offer access to Reach’s extensive register of skilled volunteers but vary in cost according to how much of the recruitment workload is taken on by TrusteeWorks and how widely a client organisation wishes to cast its recruitment net.

For volunteers, TrusteeWorks offers a personalised service to identify trustee opportunities that would make good use of their particular skills, provide satisfying rewards and challenges and fit it around work, home and other commitments. Help is also available to clarify the role, duties and responsibilities involved in being a trustee.

“Reach is investing substantial resources and a great deal of effort into the recruitment of new trustees” says Janet Thorne. “We will be actively marketing trustee roles to our register of volunteers, many of whom just don’t realise how interesting, fulfilling and even exciting the job can be and what a difference it can make to the work of a charity.

“The sophisticated recruitment technology we are currently adopting, with its improved registration procedure and matching capabilities, will make us more effective in identifying potential candidates,” adds Janet. “Beyond that, TrusteeWorks will exploit wider opportunities to promote trusteeship in general, and advertise specific vacancies through online and other media.”

New additional services are already being devised for TrusteeWorks to help organisations with their ongoing board development such as skills audits and board reviews.

More information about TrusteeWorks, including case studies of successful trustee recruits, is available by visiting:

Charlotte was Reach’s Marketing Manager until 2011
January 9th, 2010 by