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World first – new best practice guidelines for social media fundraising

1 August 2012

In the rapidly-changing world of social media, FIA has launched the first definitive best practice guidelines for social media fundraising.

In what is believed to be a world-first, Fundraising Institute Australia has set a new standard in best practice for fundraising professionals, launching a new Standard of Social Media Fundraising Practice.

Australians are amongst the highest users of social media globally and social media is fast becoming one of the easiest and most effective ways to encourage people to donate to a charity, particularly for peer-to-peer fundraising.

As the fundraising peak body, FIA was concerned there were no guidelines in place for our members or for the public on this fast-growing fundraising practice.

The new Standard of Social Media Fundraising Practice meets the needs of charities and professional fundraisers by setting out clear and practical guidelines for dealing with social media. All FIA members must now automatically abide by this new Standard.

The new Standard of Social Media Fundraising Practice was driven by FIA’s Codes Task Force. The Codes Task Force is a committee appointed by the Board in accordance with FIA’s Constitution and comprises senior fundraisers. All twelve of FIA’s Principles & Standards of Fundraising Practice have been developed under this system.

To assist fundraisers, the new Standard takes a different approach than Standards covering more traditional media, which cover both ethical and best practice guidelines. As there are no settled methods for dealing with social media, FIA prefers that fundraisers engage in social media by bearing these three principles in mind: Transparency, Accountability and Respect.

Transparency: ensures that information on a social media site is truthful and accurate and if it is not, is removed quickly. Beneficiaries must not be identified without their consent and the charity relying on the social media is properly identified with contact details made available.

Accountability: covers the management of donations. The site must indicate how donations are to be collected; how funds will be protected (general information only is required); how donations will be receipted and how the donors’ identities will be protected from publication.

Respect: covers the way in which the charity, the event, donors and beneficiaries are to be treated. Comments which are likely to be misleading or deceptive or damaging in any way to the reputation of any of these groups will be promptly removed. Spam will be removed immediately from the site.

Fundraisers and charities should take care not to spam their donors, beneficiaries or other social media sites (note that they are not exempt from the provisions of the Spam Act 2003 (Cth)). Images of beneficiaries should comply with the requirements of the FIA Standard of Ethics and Professional Conduct, which requires that images of beneficiaries should not be sensational, but respectful.

Charities and professional fundraisers should appoint a person in their organisation to review and moderate their site to ensure compliance with this Standard.

Full details of the new Standard can be found here.

FIA’s twelve Principles & Standards of Fundraising Practice are the professional fundraiser’s guide to ethical, accountable and transparent fundraising. The Principles & Standards are critical to how the fundraising profession is viewed by donors, government, the community and by fundraisers. The Principles & Standards have been developed in consultation with government, FIA members and industry stakeholders. They also complement legislation, ensuring their relevance to best practice.

All of FIA’s Principles & Standards of Fundraising Practice can be viewed here.

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