Busting 5 trustee myths

Wooden blocks showing "Myths" and "Facts"
Rachel Ord
Head of TrusteeWorks at Reach Volunteering

From age to experience, Rachel busts some common myths about trusteeship.

Every year we help dozens of people to join a charity Board through our TrusteeWorks service and we often come across misunderstandings about the role of a trustee and who can become one. Here, I bust the 5 most common trustee myths:

Myth 1 - I’m too young. Aren’t trustees middle-aged? 

Think again. Legally, you can join a charity Board from the age of 18 and many Boards are keen to attract members of all ages. And, it’s not just charities whose work is obviously youth orientated – all Boards are stronger if they have as wide a variety of perspectives around the table as possible.  

Myth 2 - I’m not senior enough. Don’t you have to have a ‘big’, important job to be a trustee? 

Not the case! It’s not about being an expert as Boards are looking for a rich mix of skills and perspectives to inform their decisions. Yes, you might have more input in a discussion about the new fundraising strategy if you’re a fundraiser in your day job but trusteeship is about collaboration and all decisions are made collectively. It’s not all about ‘professional’ jobs either – your real-life experiences may be just as valuable.  

Myth 3 - I work full-time so I won’t have time

Many Boards only ask for a few hours a month. There are usually 4-6 Board meetings per year with many Boards allowing remote attendance to at least some. You will have to do some preparation for the meetings and may be asked to get involved with projects that relate to your experience but it’s perfectly possible to be a trustee alongside a paid job.  

Myth 4 - I won’t fit in. 

Unfortunately, some Boards still fit the stereotype of being largely white and middle-class. However, this is changing and almost every Chair I speak to is genuinely committed to ensuring that their Board is inclusive and welcoming. Most will offer an induction and training, and many have great schemes for helping new trustees learn the ropes and gain confidence such as assigning a buddy to help you prepare for the meetings. 

Myth 5 - Being a trustee is boring. 

Not so! It’s an amazing opportunity to influence a cause you feel passionate about. You’ll have a voice and be at the table when the decisions are made; meet interesting people and you’ll likely learn some new skills. It’s a challenge and you’ll feel great to be doing something so positive with your spare time.