On 18 September 2023, the Charity Commission (the “Commission”) published new guidance in relation to charities’ use of social media. Charities are now strongly encouraged to implement a social media policy to govern its use of social media and, consequently, ensure it has adequate procedures in place to ensure such policy is followed.

This new guidance was subject to a formal consultation, between January and March 2023. The response to the guidance has mostly been positive, although some felt it could be clearer in relation to what the Commission specifically expects of trustees. However, it seems that this is just the first step in relation to safeguarding charities’ use of social media.

Social media policies are of ever-increasing importance as social media remains an invaluable outlet for charities to put their message across to the public via the various outlets available to them. However, trustees must stay “alive to the risks it can generate, including to a charity’s reputation” explains Paul Latham, Director of Communications and Policy at the Commission.

It is important that trustees are aware of the effect of the charity’s own social media presence, as well as the significance that posts made by trustees, employees and volunteers on their own personal profiles can have for the charity.

To help manage the possible pitfalls of social media, charities are encouraged to share social media policies with its trustees, and the policy should, amongst other things, seek to cover the following:

  • The potential for the individual’s personal use of social media and the impact this could have on the charity should they choose to disclose their place of work or role at the charity on a personal account;
  • That individuals who are trustees, senior management, or in specialist roles should take particular care to ensure personal views are not misunderstood as that being of charity, especially where they are publicly associated the with charity;
  • That individuals should make it clear on their personal social media accounts that the views are their own and not the charity’s;
  • Make a reference to the charity’s HR policies.

For financial periods ending on or after 1 January 2023, all registered charities that are required to complete an annual return must confirm to the Commission whether they have social media policy and procedures in place.

If you need advice regarding implementation of your charity’s social media policy, or indeed any other policies and procedures, please do not hesitate to contact David Goepel, Ania Chapman, Lara Persell or any member of the Private Client team.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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