Carrying out a skills audit

A skills audit is a useful tool for mapping out the skills and expertise of trustees to see if you have the right mix and identify gaps.

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An effective charity board has trustees with a good range of skills and qualities, and a variety of professional and personal experience. The ideal mix will depend on the nature of the charity, but having a diverse board – where trustees have different experiences and perspectives – will help to ensure the board will make well-rounded decisions.

A skills audit is a useful tool for mapping out the skills and expertise of trustees to see if you have the right mix and to identify any gaps in the board’s overall skills. It will also let you see how it may be affected if a trustee leaves or your charity faces any new challenges. 

When to do a skills audit

The most common time to do a skills audit is when you recruiting new trustees. However, skills audits should be done regularly – at least annually – because your trustees’ skills and experience will change, and you will be able to respond more quickly when you need new trustees if you already have an up-to-date skills register.

What an audit should cover

Your board needs the expertise to:

  • exercise overall control of the organisation’s current business operations
  • manage the charity’s resources responsibly 
  • set the strategy and oversee its implementation
  • ensure that the needs of your organisation’s beneficiaries are put first
  • keep the charity true to its purpose.

Skills audits are good for reflecting on the functional skills that your board needs. They can also focus on other aspects of your board, such as diversity. Does your board reflect the community that you serve in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, disability, lived experience and/or class? Is there a role for service users on your board?

How to do a skills audit

You can do a skills audit in various ways. You could ask each trustee to complete a printed or online audit and then you could collate the results. Alternatively, the chair could complete the audit as part of an annual face-to-face appraisal with each trustee. Or you could ask an external advisor to undertake an audit.

We have a skills audit template (doc) that you can use or adapt for your charity.

More in this guide

Recruiting and retaining trustees

Every charity can build a strong board if it invests time and effort in recruitment and retention.This guide will take you through the process step by step.

Preparing for trustee recruitment

Follow these steps to prepare for trustee recruitment: includes guidance on skills audit and model role descriptions.

The recruitment process

Successful recruitment happens when you say clearly who you are and what you’re looking for, and do so in the right places.

Induction and post recruitment review

 Poor induction is one of the most cited reasons for individuals stepping down prematurely. New trustees need to feel welcomed and informed.


Skills audit template
This template provides resources to enable you to carry out a skills audit.
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