New research from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)[i] has found that almost four in 10 Britons volunteer, with 77% saying it has improved their mental health and just over half (53%) saying it has improved their physical health. 74% of respondents also said volunteering gave them more confidence and 71% that it gave them new skills and experience.

Employers are increasingly looking to find ways to tap into this growing interest in volunteering and some are actively embracing formal programmes to encourage employees to become charity trustees as there are many benefits in terms of CSR and also in developing employees’ skills and talents.

Sophie Livingstone, Managing Director at Trustees Unlimited, a trustee recruitment business, says they have seen year on year growth in the number of companies joining their board-level trustee development programme, ‘Step on Board’ with Barclays, BlackRock, British Land, EY and Google amongst the companies that have signed up since the programme launched in 2014.

Sophie says,

“Being a charity trustee enables employees to broaden their horizons, work with people from different backgrounds and gain board-level and governance experience at a younger age. Individuals also will widen their networks and feel they are making a difference too.”

“For companies there are big CSR benefits. Programmes like Step on Board offer a way for companies to engage with charities in a long term, meaningful way. This is vital as job seekers today are increasingly checking out how a company approaches CSR and this influences their decisions about taking a job.”

“Employers can also use such programmes for professional development to help employees gain new skills which they then bring back to the office. Charities benefit too from employing professional people, as it helps improve board diversity and plug skills gaps.”

There are just over 1 million trustees across the UK supporting around 196,000 charitable organisations, but the latest statistics suggest there are more than 100,000[ii] unfilled charity trustee vacancies in the UK with 74% of charities reporting difficulties hiring the trustees they need.

Allison Watson, Head of EMEA Business & Operations Staffing at Google completed the Step on Board programme and joined the board of Working Chance, a charity that recruits women leaving the criminal justice and care system.

Allison says,

“Being a charity trustee has given me a very different perspective and helped me think in a different way than I do in my day to day role. The trusteeship has provided a great development opportunity and helped me understand how the charity sector works and how we can set up successful partnerships between charities and corporates.”

Sophie Livingstone adds,

“Programmes like Step on Board offer a win-win situation for employers and individuals It offers employers a way to fulfil their CSR ambitions and attract new recruits as well as offer a new approach to leadership development, while giving back to a cause they care about.”

For more information about the programme, visit or email