The Royal British Legion is governed by a Board of Trustees. Elections and appointments are staggered with each Trustee taking a three year term.
The Board delegates responsibility for the day-to-day running of RBL to the Director General and the Executive Board.
This page explains the role of the RBL Board of Trustees and the commitment needed by the Trustees. If, having read this, you would like to get involved, you can stand for election.
In this page:
The role of the board
The Board have overall control and responsibility for the Royal British Legion, one of the leading national charities in the UK with a turnover of c. £140m/year, employing c. 1,800 people, providing services to over 30,000 people a year, with 110,000 volunteers and 180,000 members. What started over 100 years ago as a network of membership ‘peer support’ associations in response to WW1’s mass conscription is now a national charity providing professional services to meet the complex needs of today’s Armed Forces community and acting as national custodian of Remembrance. We are the largest national Armed Forces charity and seek to place ourselves at the heart of a network supporting our beneficiaries and stakeholders.
Our high-quality services include specialist dementia care nursing in the community and in our care homes, adaptive sports and adventurous training for wounded, injured and sick personnel at our Battle Back Centre, theatre and arts therapy through ‘Bravo 22 Company’ and being the lead delivery partner for Team UK to the Invictus Games 2023 and 2025 as well as the full-range of welfare services, pensions advice and grants.
The Board of RBL is collectively responsible for guiding the organisation’s strategy - ensuring it is meeting the needs of Armed Forces personnel past and present and their families, and fulfilling its responsibility to the nation to ensure that service and sacrifice is never forgotten – and for providing good governance of its activities and resources.
How is the Board comprised?
RBL’s Board of Trustees is made up of 16 Trustees, including the National Chair, Vice-Chair and President. 10 of these are elected by and from our Membership. 6 are independently appointed.
Want to become a Trustee?
What’s involved in being a Trustee?
Trustees serve for a 3-year term. They are - jointly and equally - legally accountable and can be personally liable for the decisions and actions of the charity and for its compliance with charity law and other applicable laws and regulations.
The Board’s primary duties are to scrutinise and support the Executive, ensuring that the charity continues to fulfil its charitable aims – and, as such, benefits the public good – and that it is well-run and complies with all its obligations.
Trustees are expected to consider the interests of all stakeholders, and ultimately to make decisions in the best interests of the charity. They are not appointed or elected to represent any particular interests or groups. Trustees must avoid and declare any potential conflicts of interest with matters under discussion at the Board.
Trustees spend a significant amount of time reading and considering reports and participating in decision-making meetings with fellow Trustees and the Executive Management. Trustees are expected to attend most meetings of the Board, and to sit on at least one committee of the Board. In addition, they are expected to represent the Legion at key events and to engage sufficiently with the charity and its various constituents (beneficiaries, partners, members, volunteers and staff) to appraise themselves of the charity’s activities and strategic context.
Trustees are expected to attend the 6 Board meetings and both the Festival of Remembrance and Remembrance Sunday parade which are held every year. Trustees will normally be asked to sit on one of the Trustee Committees. Aside from that they will need to dedicate time to reading papers and preparing for the formal meetings held by the Trustees.
I’ve learnt so much since becoming a Trustee of RBL, and I am proud to play my part in shaping our charity.Helen Owen
RBL, Trustee and Chair of Poppyscotland subsidiary
Why do Trustees give up their time?
Being a Trustee is a selfless act. Charity Trustees are not paid. (Expenses are reimbursed.)
The main reason people become a Trustee is their deep-seated desire to ensure that current and future generations of the Armed Forces community – those serving, veterans and their families – receive the best support from RBL to help them live fulfilling lives, and that our supporters’ donations and time is productively used.
The Board works through collective responsibility; so while being a Trustee provides the opportunity to influence the strategic direction and running of the Royal British Legion (and its subsidiaries), no one Trustee – even the Chair – has control over the decisions of the board or the direction of RBL.
Trustees with executive management experience in their career will gain valuable skills in undertaking a non-executive role, holding the executive accountable for performance and development of RBL. Trustees also have the opportunity to form new relationships with people inside and outside RBL and its membership.
How does the board function?
The Board meets formally six times per year for a half- or full-day meeting.
The RBL Board is supported by nine committees (e.g. Audit and Risk, Care Services), of varying sizes. Some of the committees are composed solely of Trustees, while others also utilise elected (e.g. Membership Council) or co-opted members. Trustees are expected to serve on at least sub-committee, and we aim to utilise the knowledge and experience of our Trustees most appropriately in considering on which committees people serve. Committees typically meet for shorter meetings, and often virtually, and frequency varies significantly across the different committees.