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Supporting Scotland's vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Recruitment & induction

Recruiting trustees is a vital part of what you do. Once you’ve got them, make sure they are given a thorough induction.

Check your governing document

The first trustees are likely to be drawn from the group who set up the organisation. After that, the trustees will, and should, change over time with some people leaving and some new members joining. This provides a healthy process for fresh ideas, new skills and outside energy to come in, and prevents the organisation going stale. Your governing document should detail who can be a trustee, how they’re elected, how long they can be in office, and whether they are eligible for re-election if they wish to continue. It is considered good governance for a trustee to serve a maximum of nine years, but any turnover should be carefully planned to retain important skills, experience and knowledge.

Your charity’s governing document should also set out the minimum and maximum number of trustees your charity needs to have. If it doesn’t, it is good practice for your charity to have at least three trustees, usually consisting of: a chair, secretary and treasurer. There is no upper limit of trustees you can have, but too many could become unmanageable. A SCIO must have at least three charity trustees.

Where are the gaps?

Before you look for new trustees you should see what skills your current board has, and identify where there are any gaps with a skills audit. Work out what you will need now and in the future, and what you’re looking for in a new trustee. Prepare a job description or profile of the skills, experience and knowledge required, and some background information on your organisation.


Recruitment procedures should be open and transparent to ensure the best possible mix of skills, knowledge, attitudes and experience. If you have a place to fill on your board and want to recruit new trustees, there are a number of options:

  • For local organisations - contact your Third Sector Interface to advertise trustee opportunities
  • For regional or national organisations – register for Volunteer Zone with Volunteer Scotland to advertise your trustee opportunities on the Volunteer Scotland national database
  • For organisations wanting the added reach and profile of an advertisement in Goodmoves where your trustee vacancy will be seen by over 75,000 unique users a month, email or call 0800 0192 149

All trustee vacancies advertised through Goodmoves, Volunteer Scotland and Third Sector Interfaces will also appear on the SCVO Trustee Network search.

If you’re looking for trustees with particular professional skill sets then Standard Life Aberdeen can promote trustee vacancies through their internal staff intranet and other networks. Contact:

To find trustees with financial expertise IMultiply Finance Recruitment Specialists can advertise your vacancies for free on their website.

Black Professionals Scotland supports organisations in meeting their inclusion and diversity ambitions. You can advertise trustee vacancies on their website. Contact:

Our Open Door Webinar No.7 looked at recruiting new trustees and how to diversify your board. It has some great hints and tips.

Selection and Election

Any potential candidates need to have their eligibility checked. Meet them to find out whether they’ll be a good fit for your organisation. If they’re willing to join you, take up references and ask for proof of identity and qualifications. Ask them to sign a Trustee Consent and Declaration form, then make sure they’re elected in line with the rules in your governing document.


Co-option is a way of bringing someone onto your governing body at any time, where the usual process would involve an election at the AGM. Your governing document should indicate whether co-opted members have a vote. You should minute the nature of the role so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding in the future.

Finding a Chair

The role of the Chair is crucial, and the selection, election or appointment needs to be open and transparent. Some organisations recruit their Chair from existing trustees, others seeks to recruit someone who can bring specific skills and experience to the role. Your governing document should describe how your Chair is selected.


A good induction is vital for new trustees, we have a sample Trustee induction checklist which you can use to prepare your own induction process.

They should:

  • Know about the organisation and its aims, and understand the challenges it faces and the support they can expect
  • understand their role and responsibilities, and any personal liabilities
  • visit your organisation and get the opportunity to meet with existing trustees, staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and service users
  • understand what expenses they can claim.

The induction pack should include a copy of the governing document, accounts, previous minutes. You should make sure your new recruits understand these key documents.

Trustees need to play a full part in discussions and decision making. A good induction will set the groundwork for future development and learning. Think about having an existing trustee mentor a new one, and make sure you continue to develop your board. Review the induction process with your new trustees after six months, to ensure that their knowledge and understanding is as it should be.

Good governance needs well informed and active trustees. SCVO can provide further training and resources to help ensure your organisation is governed effectively.
Last modified on 5 March 2024
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