Are you considering appointing a new Trustee?

If so there are a few things you need to remember to make sure you are acting within the law, make a sound appointment and ensure that you operate a smooth and risk free process.

Here are our 7 things to consider when appointing a new Trustee…

1. Trustee eligibility

Not everyone can be a Trustee and some restrictions will apply before you even begin looking to fill a new position. Nobody under the age of 18 can be a trustee of a charitable trust or unincorporated association, however the age is reduced to 16 for a charitable incorporated organisation or a charitable company.

Some people are also disqualified by law from acting as a trustee unless they have been authorised to do so by the Commission. (You can read the automatic disqualification guidance for charities which explains the disqualification rules in more detail.)

Charities can check potential candidates by asking them to complete a declaration form (see point 5). It is also advisable that charities get the relevant DBS checks for positions that require them.


2. Legal considerations

Other considerations regarding appointments include the rules as to how new appointments begin and end. 

The charity’s governing document should have rules about length of service, who can appoint, when and how and so on.

If the document does not have any specific rules regarding the process, you must still comply with company law provisions for appointing and removing directors and unincorporated charities must comply with the Trustee Act 1925 provisions.


3. Candidate considerations

Legal eligibility of a candidate is of course only one aspect to consider when making a new appointment. Charities will also want to consider what skills and experience the candidate brings to the charity, and potentially what they do not have – is there a gap and is this an issue?

Charities should also think carefully about whether the candidate has any potential conflicts of interest – and if they do, whether they wish for the commission to agree to a procedure to manage this or whether it is a serious conflict and should rule out a candidate.

Last but not least, candidates should be interested in the Charity and interested in helping! 


4. Charity Considerations

In the same way a potential candidate should fit the role for which they are being recruited, it is also important that as a charity you consider your responsibility for helping the candidate understand their responsibilities as they take on their new role.

Trustees must make sure that everything the charity does helps, or is intended to help, the purpose for which the charity was set up.

The charity’s governing document should set out everything in the objects clause about the purpose, beneficiaries, services, benefits and so on. 

These are not quite the same as ‘mission statements’ as they are more specific, and will also include any powers afforded by the Charities Act, so it is important that this is taken into consideration when recruiting a new trustee.


5. Obtaining a Declaration Form

As part of the checking process for recruiting a new trustee, a charity can get a potential new trustee to give a declaration that they are not disqualified from becoming a new trustee by using the Confirmation of Charity Trustee Eligibility Form.

It is important that this form is received before any appointment is made for two reasons:

  1. The Commission monitors whether charities are checking eligibility of trustees. If the proper checks have not been made, the individual’s appointment may be ended.
  2. Trustees who made the appointment without conducting the appropriate checks may be considered to have acted improperly and may impact their positions also.


6. Formalising the Appointment

When a new trustee has been appointed, depending on the nature of the charity there will be a number of official bodies that you will be required to notify. These can include:

  • The Commission
  • Companies House
  • Founders
  • Financial partners – especially if it is relevant to property or accounts
  • Funders, solicitors, auditors and other professional advisers

Of course, you also need to formally contact your new trustee to advise them of their position and welcome them! The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) produce sample letters to send to new trustees on appointment.


7. Following up the Appointment

Once appointed, it is important to continue your responsibility towards the new trustee. Its worth following up to check things like – have they got their welcome pack, do they know what their responsibilities are?

A new trustee should receive copies of all key charity documents: governing document, annual report and accounts minutes of recent meetings, guidance and policies etc. (you can find out more information about welcome packs for charity trustees here) It’s not enough to assume that they have received them!

Read our blog ‘6 things to do when appointing a new director.’

Read our blog ‘Running a business; what are conflicts of interest?

Check out our Action Planning Tool.

Post by Laura B
Laura is a member of the Customer Success team at Governance360