New research exploring the volunteering experiences and perspectives of people from the global majorityy. Find out more
Use this page to learn about the reasons to remove a trustee and the process to go through.
As part of the cycle of the board, trustees will reach a point where they leave the organisation. There are a range of reasons for this:
In some exceptional cases, the board or membership may seek to dismiss a trustee. Reasons for this might include:
In many of these cases, the trustee will decide to resign and dismissal won’t be necessary.
At times, boards may have challenging discussions and relationships between trustees may suffer. Poor relationships are an issue, but removing trustees isn’t always the solution. Your board should seek to rebuild constructive relationships, through mediation if necessary.
Contact our small charity helpdesk
If you need to dismiss a trustee, the board and the charity must follow the rules set out in your governing document.
Trustees can usually be dismissed through a no-confidence process, as long as this is part of your rules. This process can either be carried out by the other trustees, or by the members.
If you don’t have a process set out in your governing documents, you may be able to refer to the Trustees Act (section 36). This section has provisions for removing and replacing trustees.
Read the Trustees Act section 36.
When a trustee steps down or is dismissed, you need to update your charity details to reflect the change. If you don’t do this in a timely manner, you run the risk of reputational damage to your organisation. As well as this, the trustee who’s to be removed risks being associated with decisions they haven’t been part of making.
The Charity Commission and Companies House both have online services to update your trustee and director details. If the trustee who’s leaving is responsible for maintaining your charity details, you should make sure these details are handed over before the trustee steps down.
There may be other places where your trustee details need to be updated, for example on:
You may need to seek legal advice if you’re removing trustees from title deeds for land or for property.
It’s not usually necessary to change your listed details when trustees change roles within the board, unless they take up the role of chair. If you have any other public communications which detail your honorary officer roles or committee chair roles then it’s good practice to update these when you make any changes.
Occasionally trustees take up new roles within the charity. If the role’s voluntary then it’s important that the board assess whether the new role will cause any kind of conflict for the trustee.
If the role is a paid role, then there are specific rules which need to be followed. Although there are circumstances where trustees can be paid for work it is very uncommon for trustees to also be staff of the charity.
It's important to review the Charity Commission rules to understand if you need to seek permission before paying a trustee. You should also check your governing document.
Last reviewed: 29 April 2022Help us improve this content
Lessons from Trustees’ Week 2023 and upcoming dates for your diary
Our chief executive Sarah Vibert celebrates the start of Trustees' Week and shares our plans
Resources, events, support and information on the big issues affecting small charities
The latest guidance, resources and training for governance professionals
The latest guidance from the Charity Commission, new governance resources and upcoming training
A round-up of the latest guidance from the Charity Commission, recent governance news and upcoming training and events
Recent governance news, resources, research, events and more
Reflections on the recent Charity Commission board appointments along with updates and upcoming events
This month we share reflections from our Governance Forum and introduce our new governance consultant
Get regular updates on NCVO's help, support and services