PMA Consulting, LLC

Avoid the Risks of Social Media in Nonprofits

With social media literally being at the fingertips of most everyone, an organization should expect to set up guidelines to minimize the risks of privacy violations, discrimination and other issues like defamation and negative PR. Creating a dialogue with staff at the start of a campaign will help avoid potentially damaging pitfalls down the road.

State the Obvious

Remind your staff that they represent the organization, even in off hours. While you can’t expect them to completely adhere to strict rules on their personal social media pages, a friendly reminder goes a long way. Make it a policy that before any posts related to the organization are published, approval should be sought out.

Opinions are Dangerous

Whoever runs the the social media wing of the nonprofit should have a clear understanding of the goals behind the social campaign. Posts should be conversational and friendly, but based on factual information. Opinions can get the organization in trouble because of the potential polarizing effects on an audience.

Privacy is Key

Donors and fundraising can be a difficult subject to navigate when it comes to social media. Err on the side of caution before announcing to the world about a recent donation or a significant donor. If you want to highlight someone’s gift, get permission first. Many donors want to remain anonymous to the public, so staff should know who and what is fair game from a social standpoint.

Always Be Prepared

Being careful doesn’t always mean you can avoid problems. Have a plan in place that addresses general issues that could come up, so you aren’t left scrambling to fix a potential PR problem in the moments after. Response, message and authority are good starting points.

1. Respond to the issue as quickly as possible.
2. The message should usually include an apology and the steps being taken to get a fix.
3. A face or voice of the organization should be communicating the message.