STEP launches online course for charity trustees

Monday, 13 November, 2017

STEP, the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning, is launching an innovative new online course for charity trustees as part of its commitment to providing education in the field of trusts and trusteeship.

Known as The Informed Trustee, the course will equip both established and aspiring trustees with awareness and knowledge of a broad range of governance issues, and in particular charity regulation and charity finance matters.

The Informed Trustee will cover aspects relevant to the 21st century trustee, including social media and data protection, as well as more long-established topics of charity law, regulation, accounts and risk management. It is intended to lead to more confident trustees who are better able to participate and challenge at board level.

There has arguably never been a greater need for charity trustees to be better supported. The cumulative effect of recent charity governance failures has been to point to the need for a better mix of knowledge and skills around the charity board table.

While the average age of a charity trustee is said to be 59 in England and Wales,* it is positive to note that a number of young people have become charity trustees, with 86,000 of the 1 million or so charity trustees thought to be aged 16-34.* Many take on the task out of enthusiasm for a particular cause, or for personal development to broaden their own experience. The Informed Trustee is aimed at further encouraging a wide mix of individuals to consider taking on a charity trustee role, supporting more diverse boards.

STEP has developed the course with Julie Hutchison TEP, Charities Specialist at Standard Life Wealth, as part of its ongoing focus on promoting education and high standards.

The course can be taken entirely online and on-demand, so it fits easily with work and family commitments. It has been endorsed by Edinburgh Napier University and involves a writing team of 17 charity specialists drawn from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

STEP’s Director of Professional Development, Nigel Race, said: ‘Many people become trustees without being fully aware of all it entails. The Informed Trustee course will enable newcomers to gain the know-how needed to become a valued board member, one who contributes to the board agenda. Those taking this course will develop the confidence to make a positive contribution to the charity they are supporting.’

Julie Hutchison said: ‘The Informed Trustee is all about increasing the potential pool of trustees available to support charities. It aims to set up all trustees for success, so everyone can hold their own around the board table and bring the rigour required to the role. Right now, many people feel excluded from trustee training due to inflexibility around delivery of training in a set place and at a set time. The Informed Trustee removes these barriers, with an online course relevant for all trustees (and future trustees) in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.’

Dr Miles Weaver, Associate Professor and Programme Director of the Leadership in Board Governance Programme at Edinburgh Napier University, said: ‘Edinburgh Napier University is confident that this e-learning course will make an impact on both individuals and the charities they serve, will encourage more individuals to consider trusteeship and develop the necessary underpinning knowledge, skills and mind-set to fulfil this role.’


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Notes for editors

For further information please contact Joanna Pegum on +44 (0)20 3752 3771, Email:

About the course

The Informed Trustee will cost GBP249 and features 11 modules, concluding with an online assessment based on multiple choice questions. The development phase involved input and feedback from more than 60 individuals, including a user-testing group who helped to shape aspects of the web design. The full course becomes available in 2018.

About STEP

STEP is the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning. STEP works to improve public understanding of the issues families face in this area and promotes education and high professional standards among its members. STEP members help families plan for their futures, from drafting wills to issues surrounding international families, protection of the vulnerable, family businesses and philanthropic giving. Full STEP members, known as TEPs, are internationally recognised as experts in their field, with proven qualifications and experience. Find out more at

About Julie Hutchison, Chief Editor of The Informed Trustee

Julie Hutchison, LLB TEP WS joined Standard Life Wealth as a Charities Specialist in 2015 and has 19 years of experience in specialist roles across law, financial planning, investments and tax. After graduating with a First in Law from the University of Edinburgh and qualifying as a lawyer, Julie specialised in private client work including philanthropy and the creation and management of charities. As a charity finance committee member and former charity trustee, she has first-hand experience of charity governance issues and has published commentary in this area. Julie also has more than 15 years of experience in higher education, as a guest lecturer and former tutor at a number of universities. Julie is a member of STEP.