Next Steps for Digital Trustee Recruitment: An Applicant’s Guide

Marlous Lang-Peterse

Marlous Lang-Peterse

17 August 2022 | Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


for people looking to apply to become a trustee.

You are here because you have decided that you want to volunteer on a charity board as a trustee. Wonderful! So you already know all the benefits – aside from making you feel good, trusteeism builds your connections well outside your day-to-day network, strengthens your strategic skills and looks great on your CV. Now you just need to find the right board to join.

Third Sector Lab have been running Digital Trustee matchmaking and information sessions for a while now. Our feedback shows that many enjoy the events, but are unsure about the next steps to take in the recruitment process. 

As with most problems, this one has been addressed before by Reach Volunteering and Getting On Board (among others). Reach volunteering made this website about it: Trustee Recruitment Cycle. Getting on Board has this page with guides & tips. If you would rather read a blog than visit those sites, stick around & read on!

This guide is aimed at (digital) professionals looking to join a charity board.

The process will look something like this:

Step 1 – Decide what you are able to give

Step 2 – Create a trustee profile

Step 3 – Apply for a trustee vacancy

Step 4 – Remember the recruitment process is a two way street

It may well be though that your process is a lot less formal than this. For instance, if you already know where you would like to volunteer, you may choose to contact them directly and start a conversation that way. 

Step 1 – Decide what you are able to give 

How much time can you dedicate to being a trustee? Are there particular skills you would like to improve? Are there tasks you’d rather not do? Do you want to stay local or prefer remote trusteeism? Being on a board can be like a small part time job without pay, so factors like time, place, size, people and cause will matter a lot. 

Some more in-depth thoughts on this here.

Step 2 – Create a trustee profile/CV

Reach Volunteering is dedicated to helping volunteers and organisations find each other. It is a good idea to create a profile there so organisations can find you. 

CVs for job applications often focus on hard skills. Board members fill a non-executive governance function, so your soft skills will be valued more here than perhaps in your ‘day job’. You will be expected to contribute to discussions, make decisions, advise staff and think strategically. 

Think of situations where you’ve used these skills before and show them off! 

Step 3 – Apply for a trustee vacancy

There are many places you can look for trustee vacancies – this list of websites is a good place to start. If you already know where you would like to volunteer, it is always a good idea to contact them directly and ask if you can have an informal chat about joining their board, even if there is a formal application procedure.

As mentioned, your trustee application will look different from a regular job application. This handy blog guides you through what to include in your cover letter.

Step 4 – Remember the recruitment process is a two way street

Be clear on what you can offer (and what you can’t), but similarly, make sure you understand what is expected, who you will be working with and if you feel like you are a good fit for the group of people you’ll be joining. 

Trustee recruitment processes are usually quite slow. There is likely to be a requirement for you to attend one or two board meetings prior to being voted on to the board. 

Be clear on the onboarding process and expectations. When will they know whether they can appoint? How much work will you be expected to do? Are there specific projects they would like you to lead on? Is the board structure quite rigid or loose? How will you get to know the other boards members? There are no stupid questions. Be vocal!

During the recruitment process, see if you can help out by volunteering in the organisation with staff once or twice. This allows you to get a good feel for what it is like on the ground and will help you make better decisions at board level.

If by the end of it all you decide you are a good fit for each other – congratulations! You have now been appointed a Board Director!

Want to find out more about Digital Trustees? Follow this link to see our webpage.

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