Trustees are the life blood of any charity or community group. They are, after all, the ones with overall responsibility for the running of the organisation. But if that sounds scary, it needn't. There are lots of resources and help available to support trustees to carry out their duties and it can be a hugely rewarding role. 

But many charities struggle to fill vital roles like Chair, Secretary and Treasurer because would-be trustees are put off by negative perceptions of the role. Here are some popular myths, busted:

1. If it all goes wrong, I will get the blame.

Whilst Trustees are responsible in law for the running of the charity, there are ways of protecting yourself, the best one of which is to prevent problems arising in the first place. Having and following a clear constitution or governing document is fundamental and having written policies and procedures for the most common things can also help. Trustees may also benefit from indemnity insurance to limit their personal liability.

2. I will end up doing everything. 

A Board of Trustees can delegate roles and tasks to sub-groups and officers/officials (paid or unpaid) within the organisation. They may also be able to co-opt expertise onto the Board - it all depends on the constitution or governing document. 

3. It's all paperwork and bureaucracy

Trustee Boards should meet regularly but this could range from monthly to quarterly depending on the constitution and need. Much work can be dealt with outside of formal meetings and whilst there is a need to maintain oversight and scrutiny, which can involve reading reports and discussion papers, it can also be about hearing first hand from staff, volunteers or service users about the impact of the work of the charity or group.

4. Trustees don't get to do the good stuff

Trustees do have a responsibility to set the vision, direction and strategy for the organisation but how this is done can be part of the 'good stuff'. Away days or workshops with staff, management, volunteers or service users can help ensure that the charity remains inclusive and focused on the difference it makes. AGMs and Open Days can be great opportunities for trustees to engage with the organisation and ensure they know what is going on without getting bogged down in day-to-day service delivery.

5. They wont want me

The best charities and community groups look for a mix of people on their governing bodies. They need a diverse range of people with a diverse set of skills. A passion for the subject matter is important but beyond that skills, experience, contacts, networks, ideas and innovation can come from a variety of sources and we ALL have something to offer.

The Small Charities Coalition have very helpfully gathered some useful resources on trustee recruitment which you can access here.

There are dozens of charities and community groups in Cornwall who are currently looking for Trustees including the following:

Trustee - Cornwall Community Accountancy Service

Trustee – South Kerrier Alliance

Trustee - Relate Cornwall

Trustees - The Illogan Old School Community Centre

Trustees and Trustee with Financial Experience/Financial Officer - Kernow Positive Support

Trusteeship directing our work with young people & adults with disabilities within a rural, horticultural setting and Company Secretary - Kehelland Trust

Trustees needed with interest in local food, cookery skills, education or finance - Sustainable Fish Education

We’re asking you to be a Home-Start Trustee and make a difference to families in Cornwall - Home-Start Kernow

Chair - Parkinsons UK

County Chair, Treasurer, Chairman, Secretary, Committee Advisors - The Scout Association

Branch Secretary - St Austell - Guide Dogs for the Blind

Committee Secretary - Saltash Live at Home Scheme

Secretary and Treasurer - Friends of Furniss Island

Secretary - Truro Boxing Club

Secretary - Cornwall Dyslexia Association

Secretary - Bone Cancer Awareness Trust (West Cornwall)

Secretary to Branch Director - Samaritans

Secretary to the CBA - Cornwall Basketball Association

Area Treasurer - CRUSE Bereavement Care

Treasurer – Cornwall Deaf Centre

Treasurer/Board member for a young, rapidly developing CIC in Cornwall - RJ Working Community Interest Company

Treasurer Committee Members - St Mabyn Preschool

Treasurer of Management Committee/Trustees - Livewire Youth Project

Treasurer/Resident account administrator – Bude and Camelford - Abbeyfield

Request for trustees - Hearing Loss Cornwall

For more details on any of the above opportunities - or to browse others in your area - go to www.do-it.org

If your organisation is looking for someone to fill a Trustee role, contact us on 01872 266988 or email mid@volunteercornwall.org.uk for more help.