VAST Trustee Recruitment: Skills Guidance

There are a lot of people that struggle to identify their own skills and how they might be relevant to a Trustee role. In this guidance we’ll help you to identify your skills and abilities and provide some examples of more unusual ways you may have gained them.

If you’re struggling to find where your skills lie and what you can bring to a Trustee role, this guidance should help you to identify them. And they may not come from where you’d expect.

You don’t have to be high-flying in your career to have valuable skills to offer, you don’t need to be a solicitor or the CEO of a company. You don’t even have to have a job to bring something special to a board of Trustees.

“Whether you’re 18 or 80, you have the potential to be a brilliant trustee.”

What skills do I have?

Everyone has something to give, and that includes you! It’s often the case that the people who think they have nothing to give actually have the most to offer. For example, younger people may not realise that their social media and digital literacy skills would be invaluable to a board that’s mostly older people.

So, if you’re not sure what it is you have to offer, this guidance might help you to identify the skills you never knew you had.

Business Management

Firstly, if you work in any business, you have business experience, whether that’s business planning, project management, or policy development. But you don’t need to have formal or professional experience to have these skills. For example:

  • If you’re a volunteer coordinator then you’ll likely have a fair bit of knowledge in staff management,  and you’ll have some personnel skills as you’ll need to know your legal responsibilities and obligations to your volunteers.
  • If you’ve arranged a large coronation community event or a street party recently, you’ll know the work that’s involved in making sure it all goes well. So, you’ll have gained at least some project management and planning skills.
  • If someone asks you about ‘Business Ethics Awareness,’ you might think you don’t have a clue and say you have absolutely no experience of it, but you probably do. Essentially, it’s the principles of right and wrong: fairness, respect, honesty, accountability, loyalty, and integrity. So, if you go about your job, life, and interactions with others with a decent ethical outlook, then you have those skills!

Financial Skills

You don’t have to be an accountant to have financial skills. Although some professional financial knowledge and accounting skills are valuable to a board of Trustees, not every member of the board needs to know the ins and outs of charity accounts. Most people who work and have a hose to run have at least some financial management experience.

  • If you have bills to pay and a family to provide for then you’ll definitely have some cost consciousness experience – especially during this cost-of-living crisis – and you’ll know a bit about managing your money. This will also provide you with at least some budget setting skills too.

Marketing, PR, and Customer Relations

When you think of marketing and PR, you might think of someone that promotes and sells products or services, and if that’s not what you do then you might think you don’t have any of those skills. But they’re not difficult to come across. Customer service experience can come from absolutely anywhere, whether that’s from employment, volunteering, groups, events, or simply from general interactions with other people.

  • For example, you’re pretty social media savvy and can teach older people a thing or two about technology. If that sounds like you, then you have those skills. Have you taught someone how to get on Facebook or had to explain how Instagram works? You have social media experience.
  • Worked in a shop or a pub? You have customer relations experience. Volunteered in a community centre or at a community event? You have customer relations experience. Worked in a contact centre or on a phone line? You have customer relations experience.


You don’t need to be working in the voluntary sector to have fundraising experience – skills in this area can come from a number of different places, especially your personal life. Things like tenders and funding bids might, however, come from a role in local authority or from a corporate background but you see fundraising opportunities in your everyday life.

  • Have you raised money for a charity before? From a birthday fundraiser on Facebook to taking part in a sponsored activity, if you have then you have experience in asking people to donate. You might know what works well as well as what puts people off donating.
  • Are you a great presenter, a charismatic and engaging speaker? Can you absolutely nail a presentation and get others involved? This is a fantastic skill for fundraising activities and if this is you, you’d be an asset to any board of Trustees when it comes to applying for funding and contracts.
  • If you work for a charity or community group, you’ll have plenty of knowledge around raising money and applying for funding!
  • Funding bids and tenders are essentially sales but instead of selling clothes, shoes, or products, you’re selling your organisation and convincing the decision-makers that you’re the best people to give that money to. So, if you know how to be persuasive and you can put that into words or you can present that information in a creative and engaging way, then you might be able to have a huge impact in funding bids and tenders.

Specialist Knowledge

Don’t be put off by the word ‘specialist,’ we don’t mean you need a degree in early years childcare, be a chartered surveyor, or a registered nurse. Your ‘specialist’ experience can come from so many places.

  • Are you a parent carer for a child living with a disability or learning disability? You’ll have first-hand knowledge and some specialist skills that only someone like you knows.
  • If you are a carer (either paid or unpaid) for someone else; an older person or someone with mental health problems, whether that’s in your own, or someone else’s home, than you have a unique perspective on caring and the knowledge that comes with that. You might also have a good amount of knowledge in the associated benefits that come with a caring role.
  • If you are involved in any kind of company or business, you might be able to bring some valuable private sector knowledge to a board of Trustees.
  • You might not have any professional experience or qualifications, but if you’re regularly getting involved in your community and you’re passionate about making Stoke-on-Trent a better place for everyone, then we want that enthusiasm passion on our board! You know your communities best so you’re best placed to help shape your community’s support.

Essentially, what we’re trying to say is: you don’t have to have a great job, loads of qualifications, or tons of professional experience to become a Trustee. You don’t even need to have any employment experience really. As long as you have a good set of morals and some of the skills listed above, then we’d really like to hear from you.

If you would like to apply to be a VAST Trustee, please complete the expression of interest form here before 5:00 pm on Wednesday 3rd July 2024.

If you have any questions or you’d like to have a quick chat before applying, please contact Strategic Projects Manager, Charlotte Bennett via [email protected].