The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) is providing charities with tips to ensure that their social media use does not break the law or jeopardise reputations.
The sector regulator has released its ‘five social media savvy tips’. It is advising charities to have a plan in place from the start; to remember that social media is an expression of the organisation not the individual (warning that an expression of the political views of any individual trustee or staff member may be a breach of the Charities Act (NI) 2008); and to stick to portraying the charity's individual niche values.
The final pieces of advice are to protect the organisation’s reputation by not being lulled by the more casual nature of social media correspondence into dropping a professional veneer; and the warning to choose your friends carefully, to avoid the risk of inappropriate personal content leaking in to the public output of the charity.
Undermine a charity's work
“In straitened times charities may well turn to social media to get the message across about their good work and keep in contact with service users or supporters – two examples of the many positive aspects of social media,” said CCNI chief executive Frances McCandless.
“The flip side however, is the potential for a rogue or careless post to attract adverse attention, to undermine the work of a charity and to potentially break charity law or indeed other laws. This is very possible and we think that if charities use social media they should also have some checks and balances in place.
“A simple internal policy or procedure can help charities to use social media successively and minimise risks to their reputation. We have provided five tips to help charities with this, and to be savvy about social media.”
The tips follow the CCNI's launch of its Twitter channel (@CharityCommNI). The Commission’s full guidance on lobbying and campaigning can be viewed on its website here.