New Charity Commission Guidance on Charities and Social Media

This morning the Charity Commission released its new guidance on Charities and Social Media. Earlier in the year the Commission ran a consultation and it is pleasing to see concerns of the sector have been reflected in the final guidance.

If a charity uses social media it must have a social media policy which is communicated to staff, volunteers and trustees. The Commission acknowledges that “Social media can be a powerful communication tool for charities, to raise awareness and funds and to better engage beneficiaries. It can help charities reach a much wider audience, much more quickly, than traditional methods of communication.” There are however risks which must be considered to protect the charity’s reputation and promote its best interests.

The guidance sets out how trustees should formulate their policy, signposts to useful example policies. There’s also a separate easy to use checklist to help create the policy.

Charities should have a plan of action for when social media posts may harm their reputation.

The guidance signposts to useful further information, such as their guidance on political activity and the code of fundraising practice.

The most controversial section of the guidance concerns social media posts by trustees, volunteers or staff in a personal capacity. The Charity Commission acknowledges individuals’ freedom of expression and freedom to support politicians or political parties in a way charities cannot.

However there are circumstances where an individual’s posts may be associated with the charity and therefore damage the charity’s reputation. The Commission asks charities to have social media guidelines for individuals’ social media use, setting out how to reduce risks and what to do if things go wrong. Will trustees be willing to moderate their social media use in this way? Might this affect trustee recruitment? Let us know what you think.

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