• 2 min read

Charities and social media – new Charity Commission guidance

Hand using smartphone with Social media concept.

On 18 September 2023 the Charity Commission published its new guidance ‘Charities and social media’ along with a checklist for developing a social media policy.

If your charity uses social media, trustees will need to ensure that they familiarise themselves with the Commission’s new guidance and take steps to ensure that the guidance is being followed and where applicable new policies are put in place.

The guidance was amended and finalised following feedback received during the Commission’s formal consultation earlier this year which concluded in March 2023 (the Commission received 396 responses).

It is recognised that social media can be a highly effective way for a charity to engage and communicate with its supporters, beneficiaries and the public, however there are risks involved and it is important that trustees are aware of these and plan appropriately.

Social media is fast paced and generally speaking once something has been posted, it is hard to undo or be removed completely. There have been numerous examples of social media posts that have had an unintended hugely detrimental impact on the individual or connected organisation. This can be the case where a person connected (e.g. trustee, volunteer or employee) posts their own personal view either on their own accounts or the charity’s social media accounts. It is crucial that charity trustees ensure that any risks with the charity’s use of social media are managed (which will include identifying and assessing those risks), and procedures are in place to protect the charity.  

The guidance includes advice in connection with:

  • Developing a social media policy

    All charities that use social media should have a social media policy in place. As with all policies, it is essential that all trustees, volunteers and staff of the charity are aware of the policies and ensure that these are followed. The policy should be regularly reviewed and comply with all relevant laws.

    The Commission has published a helpful checklist to act as a prompt to identify what you may need to include in your social media policy.
  • Managing potential risks in posting or sharing social media content

    As well as having a suitable policy in place, you should also ensure that there is appropriate communication about the policy (and any changes to it), and that training is available for trustees, staff and volunteers.

    You should also ensure that you have considered risk management in the event that the policy is breached.
  • Use of social media by the charity – including in connection with campaigning or political activity, fundraising and engaging on emotive topics
  • Staying safe online

    Charities need to ensure that processes are in place to control security to the charity’s social media accounts, including what steps need to be taken in the event the account is accessed by a non-authorised individual/organisation. This should also include knowing how to identify and report fake accounts purporting to be the charity and/or on behalf of the charity as these could be potentially extremely damaging to the charity.

The guidance also contains details of the government’s collection of online resources and events to help improve social media skills, and links to guidance published by the National Cyber Security Centre.

The press release regarding the new guidance can be read here, and the guidance and checklist can be viewed here.

If you have any queries on your charity’s use of social media or social media policy, or would like to speak to one of our charity experts please do get in touch with Kirsteen Hook at [email protected]

Answers are just a click away

Make an enquiry