Being a trustee

You'll need trustees if you're set up as a charity

If your area is set up as a charity, you’ll need trustees.

Trustees are responsible for making sure the charity is well run, financially workable, and achieves the things it was set up to do. 

We recommend that all new trustees read The essential trustee resource from The Charity Commission. The good practice in this guide applied across Girlguiding, even though the Charity Commission is not the regulator in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Trustees have three main areas of responsibilities, which are: 


This means making sure that

  • The charity follows charity law and meets all legal requirements, including reporting. 
  • The charity follows the rules of its governing document, also known as its constitution, and stays true to its charitable purpose. 
  • Trustees act with integrity and avoid any conflict of interest, or misuse of the charity’s funds or other assets. 

Duty of prudence

Prudence means using sound judgement, and your duty of prudence means you must make sure 

  • The charity is financially solvent and will remain so. 
  • Funds and assets are only used towards the charity’s goals, for guiding this would be to help. girls and young women. 
  • Avoid risk to finances and the charity’s reputation. 
  • Care is taken when investing funds. 

Duty of care

This includes 

  • Using reasonable care and skill to make sure the charity is well run. 
  • Getting expert advice where there’s a potential risk to the charity, or where trustees may be in breach of their duties. 

Who can be a trustee? 

Most people over 18 years old can become trustees. If your charity is a company of a charitable incorporated organisation, trustees can be over 16 years old. 

You can’t be a Trustee if you: 

  • Have an unspent conviction for an offence involving dishonesty or deception 
  • Are currently declared bankrupt, or subject to bankruptcy restrictions or an interim order. 
  • Have an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) to pay off debts. 
  • Are disqualified from being a company director 
  • Have previously been removed as a trustee by us or the High Court because Of misconduct or mismanagement. 
  • Are disqualified or barred from acting as a trustee of this charity under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. 

Before being appointed as a trustee, you’ll need to sign a declaration confirming that you are eligible. 

A template declaration is available from the Charity Commission.

It’s recommended that all trustees sign a declaration annually. You could include this in your annual procedures and make it a part of the same meeting as signing off the annual accounts. 

Trustees should be given a copy of the constitution when they take on their role and should refer to it regularly. 

Conflict of interest 

Trustees must avoid any conflict of interest. This means any situation where your personal interests and loyalties could stop you from acting in the best interests of the charity. 

Make sure you declare any possible conflict of interest at the start of any meetings, so the rest of the trustees can decide how to manage it. You might be asked to leave the room for some discussions or stay in the room as long as you follow certain conditions. If you stay, you would be expected to abstain from any vote. The conflict of interest should be included in the minutes, along with the action taken. 

A conflict of interest would include having a trustees’ family member do paid work for the charity. You should get a number of quotes for any work needed any and step back from any decision making about who is hired if a family member is being considered for the work. 

Trustees cannot benefit financially from their trustee role. Your expenses can be covered, but you should not do any paid work for the charity.  

For more detailed information, please see The Charity Commission or The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator websites.