Charities have trouble recruiting trustees

Charities are finding it more difficult to recruit trustees with the right skills and are increasingly using a method of recruitment likely to limit diversity on their boards, according to new research from the Charity Commission.

The research found that 39% of charities find it difficult to fill trustee vacancies at least some of the time, compared with 31% in a similar survey in 2001. Among large charities the proportion rises to 46%.

Meanwhile, recruiting of trustees by word-of-mouth or personal recommendation is practised by 81% of charities – up from 68% in 2001.

“Recruitment solely by word-of-mouth or personal recommendation can result in a board that is not diverse and can give a perception of exclusivity, which alienates the charity’s users and wider stakeholders,” said the commission.

The report said these findings were disappointing, but others were more encouraging: more charities are doing a skills audit before recruiting (17%), use job descriptions (22%) and use a dedicated committee to recruit trustees (16%).

The survey of 3,000 charities of all sizes also found that a third of charities find it difficult to attract young people as trustees. The commission’s database shows that only 0.5% of trustees are under 24 and 76% are over 45.

“Again, charities that wish to increase the diversity of the trustee board may need to think of alternative, wider methods of recruitment,” the report said.

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