New Charity Commission guidance published on the use of social media

13 October 2023 | Applicable law: England and Wales | 5 minute read

On 18 September 2023, the Charity Commission published its guidance on charities and social media. If you are trustee to a charity which has a strong or growing social media presence, it is well worth considering the new guidance and its practical implications on internal policies and procedure.

In short, the new guidance:

  1. Recommends that charities using social media put a social media policy in place.
  2. Outlines trustees' legal responsibilities in relation to the use of social media.
  3. Provides specific guidance on content posted by or shared by trustees, employees, or volunteers on their personal social media accounts.
  4. Provides guidance on engaging on social media in riskier contexts, for example with vulnerable individuals or emotive issues.

Following feedback provided by consultation on its draft guidance, the new guidance now makes clearer that the level of trustee oversight should be tailored to the charity's needs, as well as depending heavily on the charity's activities and use of social media. In other words, the level trustee oversight should be proportionate and reflective of the risk presented by how your charity actually uses with and engages with others on social media.

Overall, the new guidance also makes clearer the distinction between charity trustees' oversight in assessing and managing risk, versus the day-to-day management of implementing the social media policy.  

It makes clearer that whilst at all charities trustees have a role in setting and reviewing the policy (as well as in dealing with any significant social media issues or crises), who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the charity's social media channels will vary according to charity size. For example, at any large charity, employees will likely manage the day-to-day channels whereas for a small charity it may well be one or more of the trustees who have this responsibility. 

In any event, the guidance recommends that the social media policy should explain clearly who is responsible for day-to-day management and who needs to be involved if things go wrong. 

The guidance provides specific points on what the policy should explain, and provides a helpful checklist for developing a social media policy which is worth reading.

If you require assistance in the drafting of or review of your social media policy, or require legal advice on any social media issue or crisis you are facing, please get in touch.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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