Digital Trustees: A Guide for Third Sector Organisations

Robyn Barclay

Robyn Barclay

31 July 2023 | Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

What is a Digital Trustee? A Guide for social enterprises, community interest companies and housing associations

Third sector organisations can be structured in all sorts of different ways. Most charities are led by a board of volunteers called trustees, who steer the organisation in the right direction. This may also be referred to as a board of directors.

Community Interest Companies (CICs), housing associations and social enterprises have all approached us to ask if they can participate our Digital Trustees Matchmaking initiative. Our resounding answer is yes! 

If you’re looking for a volunteer with digital skills to join your board,  you’ve come to the right place. 

What’s the difference between a board of trustees and a board of directors?

Board Effect defines the differences between trustees and directors as follows:

  • A board of trustees primarily operates in an advisory capacity leaving decision-making to the senior leadership, whereas a board of directors is responsible for decision-making.
  • A board of trustees serves as a volunteer, whereas a board of directors may be paid if they serve on a corporate board.

They delve further into the differences between trustees and directors in their blog post, Board of Trustees Vs Board of Directors.

Third Sector Lab is not a recruitment agency, and can’t help to recruit for paid positions. If you have any questions about eligibility, please contact

What is a Digital Trustee?

At Third Sector Lab, when we talk about trustees, we mean a volunteer who sits on the board of a third sector organisation.

The “digital” part relates to the digital, data and design experience that candidates could bring to your organisation. Depending on your needs, you might be looking for a trustee with very specific digital skills. If you’re not sure what digital skills you need, here’s an article on how to conduct a digital skills audit. 

Digital Trustees are only volunteers – they are there to help with governance and oversight of the organisation as a whole.

They provide guidance to the organisation around how they can best make use of digital as well as insight into best digital practices.

Ideally, a Digital Trustee or director will play a steering role and not be too involved in the day to day running of the organisation. A common misconception that we hear a lot is that a digital trustee will build you a website – they won’t, but they might be able to find you someone who will!

As digital trustee Tandy Nicole said in her interview with Third Sector Lab, 
“I’m not only going to come in and help, I’m going to bring a network.”
Tandy Nicole, Digital Trustee for Govan Community Project and Mental Health Network Greater Glasgow

Digital Trustee Matchmaking

So, where can you find these digital trustees? That’s where Third Sector Lab comes in. We run monthly Digital Trustees Matchmaking Events on zoom.  They’re fully funded and free to attend.

The next one is on Monday 21st August, 10-11am, and is in partnership with InspirAlba. This event is primarily aimed at rural organisations and social enterprises, but all UK third sector organisations are welcome! Here is the link to register. 
Another way to get involved is to create a Digital Trustee profile on our website. That way, digital professionals may come across your organisation themselves and reach out about the opportunity. Likewise, it is possible to view the profiles of the digital professionals.

Having a look at what skills these volunteers have could be a great way to start thinking about your perfect match. Why not create a Digital Trustee profile for your organisation?


If you have any questions, please contact


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