How many trustees do we need, and can we pay those trustees?
How many trustees do we need, and can we pay those trustees?

How many trustees do we need, and can we pay those trustees?

15/09/2020 (Staff Post - Stuart Miller )

A couple of weeks ago we provided some answers to the question What is a charity? This week we consider how many trustees do we need, and can we pay those trustees?

Who will run the charity? 
Will you have a team of people? One of the main concerns we hear from existing charities is how hard it is to get and keep charity trustees (the people who control and manage a charity). Having the right mix of skills and experience is important throughout the life of a charity. Do you have people in mind to do this? It is good practice to have at least 3 trustees in place for your charity.

Office of Scottish Charities Regulator has created An Easy Read Guide to being a Charity Trustee. This guidance is written in an 'Easy Read' format and is designed specifically for people who have difficulty reading. There is a British Sign Language version of this guidance available here.

In addition to our written guidance, we have a number of videos which you may find useful on our YouTube channel, including The role of the charity trustee and What changes do Scottish charities need to tell OSCR about?


Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations states:-

"You can’t do this all alone; you will need other enthusiastic and committed people to form a steering group or committee for the new organisation. Volunteers should have the time, skills, knowledge, contacts and ideas necessary to get things up and running. This group will also need to bond as a team, to get things done. The role of your management committee or board is to control and supervise the activities of your organisation. Your board will meet on a regular basis, most commonly once a month, to receive reports from individual trustees and/or members of staff, discuss important issues, plan for the future, and importantly, monitor the financial position of your organisation. Some careful thought should be given to the composition of the board. The maximum number of board members should be set at a level which allows for an appropriate level of representation, but should not be set so high that effective decision-making becomes difficult." (The advice we provide at Engage Renfrewshire is that there should be at least 3 trustees, if you can then consider 5 or 7 trustees. This ensures there are no equal votes when voting on a resolution.)

Check out these you-tube videos with more information on trustees:



At Engage Renfrewshire our Volunteer Development Officer can offer assistance and support with your volunteer search. Get in touch at info@engagerenfrewshire.com


Do you plan to pay yourself or the trustees?
OSCR states:- “Payments to charity trustees have to comply with strict rules. We look very carefully at applications where an individual plans to pay themselves once the charity is set up. We will ask questions about why that individual should be paid. This is so we can assess private benefit.”   

If you want to pay yourself a salary then being a charity is not the ideal route and you should consider an alternative.

For further information on payments or renumeration please follow the OSCR links below

The 2005 Act sets out when charity trustees (and people who are connected to them) can receive payment from the charity for services provided to it. A charity must not pay charity trustees, and people who are connected to them, unless the charity can satisfy the conditions set out in the 2005 Act.

This section explains what those conditions are and gives examples of when it is and is not appropriate to pay charity trustees and people connected with them.

The rules on paying charity trustees do not apply to reclaiming expenses, like train fares to get to a charity trustee meeting.

On SCVOs website ( https://scvo.org.uk/support/running-your-organisation/governance) it notes:-

“Trustees are almost always unpaid as voluntary sector organisations are established for public benefit, and not for personal gain. A common exception is where a trustee is the best person to do a specific piece of work for the organisation, which would in any event be purchased. They may then be paid a one-off fee. Good practice dictates that trustees should not receive any routine remuneration for their time or effort, though of course all out-of-pocket expenses should be reimbursed.”

Further information on this is in sections 67, 68 & 69 of the model constitution that SCVO have at the link above.