Whilst updating guidance for managers who involve volunteers we looked at the potential issue of volunteers using social media to comment negatively about factors including their role, their organization, beneficiaries etc.
Do people feel that these are covered sufficiently by existing confidentiality/data protection policies or do people feel a separate social media policy or guidelines on social media usage would be a better way to address the issues around privacy/personal v organizational views?
It’s not just volunteers who do this – I notice, for example, people twittering what are evidently their personal views rather than their organizational view. Not usually very negative or serious. Maybe it’s something to do with the ease and immediacy of posting, and assumptions about what one’s organizational view would be, especially on politics, for example. An issue that springs to mind is tweets about the Dorries/abortion counseling goings on from organizations that I don’t think include this area in their remit. But I digress.
Surely the issue of negative postings or publicity by staff or volunteers is covered by one’s Code of Conduct, a breach of which could trigger a disciplinary/resolving difficulties procedure. It would come under a clause about actions that bring the organization into disrepute – reputation is priceless and charities need to be seen to be squeaky clean.
And, of course, better to minimize the incidence of disaffected volunteers by good volunteer management practice, and, just in case, creating a climate in which volunteers will feel OK about expressing concerns internally first. But you know that!
First response: What are you doing with paid staff around the same area? Are you worried that they will use social media to comment negatively about factors including their role, their organization, beneficiaries etc. ?
In terms of confidentiality, its the same wherever they are talking.
Whether on or off line, letter, Facebook or Twitter what is confidential is confidential. Your confidentiality policy needs to include that.
The confidentiality policy does not cover other matters though and a Social media policy needs to cover:
- what they post as a volunteer or employee about Scope on Scope related social media sites
- what they post about Scope on their own social media sites (and you want them posting positively about their experiences. They are very powerful brand ambassadors)