After working on SCVO’s Information Service for nearly 17 years, I’ve come across a lot of weird and wonderful queries, from how to set up a golfing charity for children in Morocco to where to source a charity that might be able to use 30kg of fresh cheese.

A favourite theme of mine is governance enquiries, because really they’re more about people and their behaviours than boring (but essential!) policies and procedures.

An essential ingredient for good governance is a great board of trustees. So how do you go about recruiting the right people for your board?

Identify the skills you need. What knowledge and experience does the board already have? Where are the gaps? Do you need someone with HR experience, or campaigning skills? How about some legal or financial expertise? Draft a role description covering the duties of the trustee, any specific skills required, and an outline of the organization and its priorities. But be realistic – commitment and a willingness to learn new skills are just as important as formal qualifications.

We all know that finding good trustees can be difficult, but there’s a lot of help out there

We all know that finding good trustees can be difficult, but there’s a lot of help out there. You can advertise your vacancies at Goodmoves and Volunteer Scotland or get more specialist help to find the right mix of skills and expertise through People Scotland. Your local Third Sector Interface may also be able to help.

The main thing to ensure is that you have a diverse board with a good mixture of age, experience, skills and backgrounds. This might lead to differences of opinion at meetings, but that’s healthy and good, as long as it’s managed in a positive way.

Once you’ve recruited your trustees, a proper induction is important. At the most basic this should include giving your trustees:

  • a copy of your constitution
  • your last set of accounts
  • a timetable of meetings
  • an opportunity to meet other trustees before the first board meeting

We all know that horrible feeling of being thrown in at the deep end. A thorough, clear and welcoming induction will help your trustees settle into their new role and understand your organisation.

So, you’ve got your perfect trustees through the door and made them feel welcome. What now? Look out for my next blog which will look at managing, motivating and retaining your board.

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Take a look at our events and training calendar.

SCVO Information service

If you or your board need help get in touch with the SCVO Information Service on 0800 169 0022 or find information online.

Guide to good governance

Our comprehensive guide to what it means to be a member of a governing board. Available as hard copy and PDF. Visit our shop.


We’re planning Scotland’s first national Trustee Conference on Saturday 8 November which offers a chance to network and learn with your peers. Let us know what you would like to see included in the programme. Email