Leadership and Trustees

We believe that a charity’s leaders, and therefore its trustees and senior managers, are key to its success. And we’re here to help you to develop your leadership.

As a charity you need a minimum of three unconnected people as trustees and most management committees operate with at least a chair, secretary, and treasurer. However, you will need enough trustees with the right skills to ensure that you can run your organisation effectively – download the NCVO trustee skills audit tool to find out what skills your board may need.

We recommend that all trustees read the Charity Commission’s Essential trustee: What you need to know, what you need to do. You might also like to do NCVO’s online training on the Roles and Responsibilities of a trustee and refer to the Governance Code – if you and your fellow trustees, follow everything in the code then you will be able to exercise good leadership of your organisation.

For help with your trustee roles and how to recruit suitable people, visit our Volunteering Page  or book a free support session.

We’ve pulled together some of the best resources and tools below to help you learn and grow as a trustee, a leader and a board.


As a leader in your organisation do you ever wish you had someone to talk to about dealing with a difficult situation, how to go about building your team or barriers to making the progress you want? Are you new to a leadership role and wonder if you are getting it right?

We can provide you with the opportunity to explore these or other concerns with our expert support offering. Find out more by clicking on Expert Support for Senior Leaders.

Resources for Treasurers and Chairs

The Honorary Treasurers Forum offers support and networking for those who take the role of Treasurer on non-profit boards. Have a look at its free Honorary Treasurer’s Handbook.

The Charity Finance Group has put together a guide to Essential Charity Finance for trustees.

The Association of Chairs has resources specifically for Chairs and their unique role in a charity.  The  Association of Chairs has also worked with the Charity Commission to produce a short video,  a Chair’s role in governance.

Resources for trustees

The Charity Commission has other useful guides for trustees on aspects of running a charity, a Charity Trustee Welcome Pack and has produced several videos to help trustees and chairs:

The FSI has produced a series of videos called  the Essential Trustee. Trustees around the country use the FSI’s video series to help them to learn about their role and responsibilities.


These popular, engaging short talks may give you much food for thought. You can browse them yourself but here are some that other people are recommending:

Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations - ACEVO

Did you know that there is a national network of charity Leaders? ACEVO provides training, career development and much more.


In addition to leading your own organisation, you might find yourself part of a wider system, trying to make a positive change in an area where lots of other agencies are also involved, such as healthcare provision. You might feel like a small fish in a large pond but even small fish can exercise leadership.

Here are some articles which explore systems leadership which you might find helpful.

Case Studies


Julia volunteers at her local GP Surgery, providing administrative support. She says this means she builds her knowledge and experience and has fun while being helpful and making a difference.


Sue volunteers at her local GP Surgery and has been putting her skills to good use deciphering handwritten patient notes and putting them on patients’ computerised records.

The Rape and Sexual Advice Support Service (South Buckinghamshire)

The charity provide free, confidential support and information service to female survivors of rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse, honour-based violence and FGM.