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Draft guidance for charities about their use of social media

Published : 06/02/23 | Categories: News |

The Charity Commission wants to hear your views on their draft guidance for charities on social media.

The Commission acknowledges that social media has become a powerful way for many charities to promote their work, engage their supporters and campaign for change. The public is also using social media to engage with or debate the work of charities.

However, the Commission’s casework suggests that some trustees have limited oversight of their charities’ use of social media compared to other aspects of their communication and engagement strategy, ‘This might be due to a lack of confidence or understanding, or because uptake of social media has developed through staff or volunteers.’

DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS

The Commission states that ‘Whilst it is reasonable for trustees to delegate the day-to-day operations of social media, it is important that there is an appropriate shared understanding of the charity’s use of social media and the particular risks it can bring’.

The aim of this new guidance will be to help trustees improve their understanding, and to encourage charities to adopt a policy on social media as a way to set their charity’s approach. They intend this guidance to be enabling and to support trustees, who they do not expect to be experts in this area. The guidance does not introduce new trustee duties but seeks to make clear how existing duties are relevant to a charity’s use of social media.

The guidance sets out that social media use can raise issues and risks for charities, relating to problematic content:

  • posted or shared by the charity on its own social media channels
  • posted by the public or third parties on a charity’s social media channel
  • posted on a personal social media account that can be reasonably associated with the charity

The draft guidance also covers the complex issue of people using personal accounts to talk about their employment with a charity. The Commission emphasises that ‘those employed by, or working with, charities are free to use social media in their own right. However, sometimes there are risks that an individual’s posts are interpreted as reflecting the views of the charity and the draft guidance therefore says trustees should consider setting out what their rules are and how they would respond if such activity brings negative attention to the charity. This is not intended to prevent personal use of social media but to help make clear those areas where the charity may have a legitimate concern, for example as the employer.’

This is an important consultation for the sector and we recommend that trustees of charities in Wales take time to read the draft guidance and respond to the Commission if they have any comments on the guidance.

Respond to the consultation here: Draft guidance: charities use of social media

The deadline for responses is 14 March

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