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Social Media Policies for Non-Profits

February 18, 2010

If you are involved with a non-profit that uses social media, or if you’re looking to venture into that arena with your organization, it’s important to have a common-sense policy in place that gives your employees some idea of what’s appropriate and what is not. While the policies may seem common sense, having an official stance on what’s appropriate and what isn’t can prevent plenty of headaches.

Adapted from comments on a post on “Beth’s Blog,” the policy points listed below are originally from the Easter Seals. It’s a policy can easily be used for any non-profit, especially when there’s no formal one in place. At the very least, they’re things to keep in mind as you move forward in your own blogging endeavors. Here they are:

1. Be Responsible. Blogs, in addition to other social media sites that are not officially branded as part of our organization (unless specifically authorized) are individual interactions, not corporate communications. Organizational staff and volunteers are personally responsible for their posts on our sites and on social media throughout the Web.

2. Be Smart. A blog or community post is visible to the entire world. Remember that what you write will be public for a long time – be respectful to the company, employees, clients, corporate sponsors and competitors, and protect your privacy.

3. Identify Yourself. Authenticity and transparency are driving factors of the blogosphere and social media. If you’re comfortable doing so, list your name and when relevant, role at our organization, when you blog about topics that are related to our mission.

4. Include a Disclaimer. If you blog or post unofficially to an online forum other than our sites that’s within the realm of our mission, make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the organization. If your post has to do with your work or subjects associated with our organization, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t represent [my organization’s] positions, strategies or opinions.” This is a good practice but does not exempt you from being held accountable for what you write.

5. Respect Privacy of Others. Don’t publish or cite personal details and photographs about our clients, employees, volunteers, corporate partners or vendors without their permission. Any disclosure of confidential information will be subject to the same personnel policies that apply to wrongful dissemination of information via email, conversations and written correspondence.

6. Write What You Know. You have a unique perspective on our organization based on your talents, skills and current responsibilities. Share your knowledge, your passions and your personality in your posts by writing about what you know. If you’re interesting and authentic, you’ll attract readers who understand your specialty and interests. Don’t spread gossip, hearsay or assumptions.

7. Include Links. Find out who else is blogging about the similar topics and cite them with a link or make a post on their blog. Links are what determine a blog’s popularity rating on blog search engines like Technorati. It’s also a way of connecting to the bigger conversation and reaching out to new audiences. Be sure to also link to our website.

8. Be Respectful. It’s okay to disagree with others but cutting down or insulting readers, employees, bosses or corporate sponsors and vendors is not. Respect your audience and don’t use obscenities, personal insults, ethnic slurs or other disparaging language to express yourself.

9. Work Matters. Ensure that your blogging doesn’t interfere with your work commitments. Discuss with your manager if you are uncertain about the appropriateness of publishing during business hours.

10. Don’t Tell Secrets. The nature of your job may provide you with access to confidential information regarding our organization, its beneficiaries, or fellow employees. Respect and maintain the confidentiality that has been entrusted to you. Don’t divulge or discuss proprietary information, internal documents, personal details about other people or other confidential material.

(Thanks @BethKanter)

Does anyone else have their own social media policies, or are there other important things to include? Are they successful? Do they go to far? Feel free to share your thoughts.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 25, 2010 4:04 pm

    Thanks! Will review this with our RD team

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