Simon Blake: Why trustees need to be loud and proud on social media

21 Nov 2019 Voices

Simon Blake, chair of the #SocialCEOs judging panel, outlines five reasons why trustees should be more active on social media.

Charity trustees or non-executive directors (NEDs) of social enterprises like MHFA England, where I work, play a critical role. They volunteer immeasurable hours and enormous expertise and provide governance, scrutiny, strategic direction and support to make sure we deliver our purpose and impact. 

For the past seven years, I have been privileged to be trusted by Zoe Amar and Matt Collins (founders of #SocialCEOs) to chair the judging panel. The Awards aim to move the dial on the use and effectiveness of social media across the social sector. Zoe and Matt deserve huge thanks for their foresight, vision and tenacity. 

This year again we have a strong list of CEOs - new and old, small and big - in fact the most diverse list we have had. It is super, and we have a stunning overall winner, who the judges agreed on unanimously in less than ten seconds. 

A few years ago, we introduced a trustee category and that has been much tougher because, quite simply, either trustees are not boasting about their work as much as they could be, or not being nominated. And while we have a winner for Best Trustee on Social Media this year, the judges didn’t select a winner for Best Digital Trustee. Where are all the champions at board level?

I am a proud trustee of Stonewall. We have an exceptional trustee team who work hard to support a brilliant staff team who do challenging work. Our commitment to equality for all, and our belief that you cannot pick and choose who enjoys freedoms and rights, so no-one is left behind, puts us under the spotlight. 

And that is emotionally tiring for staff on the frontline who can experience negativity day in, day out. Stonewall is not alone, so many organisations are doing very difficult work on limited resources in the face of challenge and opposition. 


A few months ago, the wonderful Sarah Atkinson from the Charity Commission responded when I did a tweet about Stonewall’s work and used the hashtag #ProudTrustee. She said she wanted to see more proud trustees, and so together we set about encouraging trustees to come out and be proud of their organisations' work. And it felt GOOD to see. 

This week I remembered that conversation with Sarah Atkinson and was compelled again to trigger a #ProudTrustee movement after a discussion about Stonewall with a stranger on my holidays. 

Reading the #ProudTrustee hashtag warmed my cockles. Take a look. 

So here are five reasons I implore trustees to get more active in boasting about their organisations' work on social media:

  1. It tells staff and volunteers you value them. 
  2. It spreads information about sometimes lesser known issues and causes into your wider networks, many of which the organisation won’t have on their CRM. I have learned about all sorts of causes and organisations I wouldn’t have known much about. 
  3. It amplifies the benefits and pleasure of serving as a trustee/NED.
  4. Social channels give us the chance to spread information and boast in our own way - there is no one, single organisational line. 
  5. We need more trustees nominated for #SocialCEOs 2020.

So please, if you are a trustee or a NED, use your channels to amplify your organisations' messages. We are living in choppy times and as a sector, we are the glue. Let’s be an extra string to the communications team’s bow, and shout about the work of the organisations we invest our time in voluntarily, because we care so deeply about the mission, the cause and the impact we make. 

My name is Simon Blake. 

I am a #ProudTrustee.

I am chair of the #SocialCEOs judging panel 2012 - 2019 and whether I am on, or not on, 2020's panel, I would love to see more trustees nominated in the #SocialCEOs Awards 2020.

Highlights from #ProudTrustee




Simon Blake is a trustee of Stonewall, chief executive of MHFA England and chair of the judging panel for #SocialCEOs

The winners of this year’s #SocialCEOs will be announced this evening with full coverage tomorrow on Civil Society News. 

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