Following a formal consultation, the Charity Commission has published new guidance for trustees on using social media.
The guidance says that charities should have a social media policy in place and should ensure the policy is followed: ‘This is standard practice in many charities and across other sectors and industries, and can help an organisation avoid problems and address issues swiftly if they occur.’
The Commission says its casework has revealed that trustees are not always aware of the risks that may arise from using social media, meaning that some do not have sufficient oversight of their charity’s activity, leaving them and their charity vulnerable. The guidance aims to help trustees understand these risks, how their legal duties apply, and what to consider if issues arise.
- Makes clear that the regulator does not expect that every charity will involve trustees in the day-to-day running of the charity’s social media but that trustees must understand their legal responsibilities even if delegating tasks
- Sets out the expectation that charities using social media should have a policy in place to explain how using social media will help deliver the charity’s purpose and should include the charity’s own guidelines, such as those on the conduct of trustees, employees and volunteers using social media on the charity’s behalf
- Contains an easy-to-use checklist to help trustees and senior employees have informed conversations on what the right policy for them looks like
- Says charities should have guidelines to manage the risk that content posted by individuals connected to the charity in their personal capacity, particularly those who are high profile like CEOs, may negatively impact the charity by association. It also makes clear that trustees, employees and others have the right to exercise their freedom of expression within the law
- Signposts organisations and resources that can help trustees if they want to improve their social media skills
CONSULTING ON THE GUIDANCE
The Commission received 396 responses to its consultation on the guidance and has made a number of changes to clarify its regulatory expectations in light of the feedback. The final guidance also further emphasises the benefits of using social media, so that charities can have confidence in their ability to make use of them.
WCVA submitted a response to the consultation on behalf of charities in Wales. We welcome this guidance and are pleased to see that the Commission has provided additional clarification in response to feedback from the sector. We hope trustees in Wales will find the guidance helpful.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
You can access the guidance and checklist in both Welsh and English on the Charity Commission website.