Trustee and Member Resources

Article modified: June 2022, Author:


Don’t forget that trustees often go under another name. In charities which are limited companies, they will also be company directors. The board might be called a management committee.

Training, Advice, Networks

There have been a number of initiatives around ‘Good Trusteeship’ over the years, although some have now disappeared off the web. Here are some useful current results.

NCVO’s Governance and Leadership pages now generally refer elsewhere.

In Northern Ireland Volunteer Development Agency, which has become part of Volunteer Now, had a governance project offering training, support and information for management committee members – now defunct? But see the next item.

DIY Committee Guide provides online access to “extensive resources and guidance for voluntary management committees in Northern Ireland”.

TrusteElearning has 12 online training modules developed by the Governance Hub and Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisation.

See Functional support bodies for Charity Treasurers’ Forum.

Other umbrella bodies have useful material.

Published Guidance

Codes of conduct:

Duties of Charity Trustees pocket size introduction to the issues from specialist solicitors Bates Wells and Braithwaite.

Charity Commission also publishes guidance. See The Essential Trustee (CC3) for instance and check out other material on their web site. Also of interest CC24 Users on Board: Beneficiaries who become trustees looking at how potential conflicts of interest can occur, suggests ways to minimise their effects and lists sources of further guidance for charities looking at the issue. Publications order line 01823 345427.

There’s a trustee’s checklist on our Governance issues page.


REACH recruits volunteers (to be placed in a charity of community group) with managerial, professional and technical experience, including for trustee positions. 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP, phone 020 7582 6543. Also has Scottish, Welsh and NI bases.

Bar in the Community is a Bar Council initiative which aims to help voluntary sector groups by identifying barristers willing to serve on Management Committees. It is not about barristers providing free legal advice, rather that they have many other valuable skills which would benefit voluntary organisations. Bar in the Community, c/o Bar Pro Bono Unit, 289-293 High Holborn, London WC1V 7HZ, phone 020 7611 9511.

ICSA (company secretaries) runs a trustee register to help with the recruitment of charity trustees.

Trustees Unlimited is a joint venture of NCVO, Bates Wells and Russam, to support good governance and find new trustees. Note: nota free service.

Trustee Finder is a service from Small Charities Coalition and the volunteering site Do-it.

Business in the Community NI can help with skilled volunteers, including board members.

Also see: our Consultancy page for projects putting professionals with particular skills in touch with local projects (under Business Links). Sector support bodies sometimes publish such ‘opportunities’ or have lists.


Voluntary organisations have members for a whole host of reasons. Some exist purely for their members, such as self-help groups (educational as well as supportive), others want member involvement in campaigns, raising funds or volunteer activities to carry out various functions . While there are many membership issues in common, such as keeping records (see Membership Software), others will be more particular. If making comparisons with other groups on how they handle members, do think about what is different in your case and apply lessons appropriately.


The Charity Commission has produced (April 1999) with ICSA, a guide to Charities and meetings (ref CC48), with suggestions on good practice, specimen notice and venue checklist as well guidance on the law. Registered charities should obtain in the usual way from the Charity Commission.

Members’ Code of Conduct

When asked a question on this, we wondered why this wasn’t an issue with a higher profile. Perhaps it is because of the diversity of the sector. On a quick Google search, we came up with 2 contrasting examples: a family history society and a Lesbian, gay centre (ie building based), while the enquirer was going to have service users alongside community professionals and public sector members . What is essential for one could be completely over the top for another. We’ve looked at these as we put together something of a checklist on issues to consider. We would suggest that shortness, clarity and keeping the Code as ‘unheavy’ as possible are good guiding rules.

  • Control of the identity and intellectual property of the organisation. Should you highlight the need for permission to use the logo or name, reproduction or re-use of (published) material, who is allowed to speak on your behalf?
  • Conduct on the premises. In many instances, reference to ‘acceptable types of behaviour’ may be sufficient; in more sensitive contexts explicit reference to unacceptable actions which will result in immediate suspension/removal may be appropriate. What members should do if encountering abuse (of themselves, another person or the premises/equipment).
  • Codes for undertaking activities – e.g. field work. This starts to overlap with volunteering codes or policies, but if member means effectively the same as volunteer, does there need to be a separate document?
  • Are there more than one type of member? E.g. service users, service providers or volunteers. Where is the appropriate place to define conduct or boundaries of relationships? Are there possible professional discretions which could complicate a wish for complete openness, for instance?
  • Complaints, grievances. Who to address them to, how, timescales for response, maybe set procedures.
  • Disciplinary procedure / why and how someone’s membership might be revoked.
  • More positive statements about supporting the ideals and aims of the organisation. Tolerance of views, lifestyles, equal ops.
  • Establishing common expectations amongst members, to enhance interaction and understanding, reduce conflicts. Declarations of interest when debating issues.
  • Appropriate reference to the constitution. Try not to repeat or overlap too much, as that complicates any later amendments and peoples understanding of the legal position. The constitution, whether for a club, trust or a limited company, should always be seen as the prime document. Standing orders for meetings is another place for rules which could connect up (e.g. exercising voting rights, rules of debate).

Where membership may, entirely or partly, consist of other organisations, issues are more likely to be about avoiding conflicts of interest, clarity of roles and legal responsibility (which body is a person representing?).

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