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Charities exist to create a better society. The range and scope of their work and the variety of people they help is amazing. Whether working locally, nationally or internationally they have a remarkable history of driving social change. There are some 160,000 charities in England and Wales registered with the Charity Commission, and perhaps another 80,000 that do not have to register (because they are very small, or because they are 'exempt' or 'excepted' - this is explained in other guidance on our website). Charities meet all kinds of needs that would otherwise go unmet. One thing they have in common is that they all depend on their trustees.

Charity trustees are the people who form the governing body or 'board' of a charity. They may be called trustees, directors, board members, governors or committee members, but they are the people with ultimate responsibility for directing the business of the charity. Most trustees are volunteers, and receive no payment (except out-of-pocket expenses).

Trusteeship is:

  • Responsible: You and your fellow trustees will work together to make the decisions that really matter, about the charity's finances, activities and plans for the future. You will give leadership and direction. You may employ staff. So you will need to give enough time to carry out your role, for example preparing for and attending trustee meetings.
  • Rewarding: You will have the opportunity to learn and develop new skills, meet people who share your passion for a particular cause or issue, and know that you are making a real difference through the work of your charity.
  • Relevant: The skills and experience you gain may open up new opportunities for you, for example in employment.

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