Is your charity following social media best practice?

In this digital age, the use of social media has become a staple for many charities to promote their work, engage with supporters and campaign for change. But is your organisation following social media best practice? 

The charity commission have released draft guidance for charities and the use of social media. This guidance has been produced to help trustees improve their understanding of the risks associated with social media and to encourage the adoption of policies around its usage, setting out the approach that charities should take.

The guidance sets out that social media usage can raise issues and risks, relating to problematic content, as follows:

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

The guidance is clear that those employed by or working with charities are free to use social media in their own right. Although it highlights those charities should be aware that an individual’s posts could be construed as the charity’s own views. Therefore, trustees should consider setting out what their rules are and how they would respond if such activity brought negative attention to the charity.

What should a social media policy include?

A policy will assist you and your charity in comprehending and articulating:

  • How your charity uses social media, considering how it advances the charities goals and purpose
  • Your expectations for how trustees, employees, and volunteers should behave on social media
  • How you will engage with the public on social media
  • Who should be consulted if something goes wrong

Setting a more formal approach when using social media can be beneficial to respond to negative comments and feedback. Moreover, it can also bring other benefits such as:

  • Creating a more consistent brand identity
  • Encouraging brand ambassadors among employees by giving them the tools and guidance needed
  • Quicker response to social media crisis – as more people are aware what problematic content looks like
  • Can mitigate legal and security issues

How can you manage the potential risk when posting or sharing social media content?

Your social media policy, trustees, staff and volunteers communications and training, should clearly outline that your charity should not post or share content which is or could be regarded as:

  • harmful
  • inconsistent with your charity’s purpose or not in its best interests
  • in breach of the law

Posting, sharing, liking or commenting on such posts can damage your charities image and in more serious cases can lead to a criminal offense, then becoming a police matter.

It is also a good idea to have a basic understanding of the relevant laws to ensure that you are compliant:

  • UK GDPR rules on publishing personal information or data
  • privacy (misusing private information or intruding on a person’s right to privacy)
  • copyright law
  • defamation law
  • whistle-blower protection
  • equality and human rights including discrimination, victimisation, harassment, and freedom of expression


These laws are incredibly detailed, and a full understanding is not essential, however it is worth seeking professional assistance with any of the above laws if you feel you could be in breach of them before the matter escalates.


It is good practice to ensure anyone with access to your charity’s social media accounts, including employees and volunteers are aware of the possible risks surrounding social media. Be aware of the rules and code of conduct of the platform you are using as these change from platform to platform, and some restrict the type of content you are able to share.

If your charity needs to engage on controversial topics, campaigning, or political activity on social media for the charitable purpose, if it is within the charities best interest, more guidance can be found in the draft legislation below:

During the consultation period the charity commission are looking for your responses to shape this guidance.

If you need assistance on how to prepare for this guidance and or need help with your fundraising reporting requirements, please contact our Charity and not for profit team below:

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