Four reasons why trustees should be on social media

Zoe Amar is director of Zoe Amar Communications, a marketing and digital communications consultancy who’ve worked with leading charities including Action Aid, Crimestoppers and Macmillan.

She blogs for The Guardian about charities and communications and is also an associate lecturer in social media on the degree in charity and social enterprise management at Anglia Ruskin University. Zoe is a trustee at national charity CACHE. She tweets @zoeamar

Earlier this summer The Financial Times reported that almost half the boards of the UK’s largest public companies hadn’t discussed their social media strategies in the past year.

Am I alone in finding that shocking? Whether you sit on the board of a FTSE 100 company or a charity, surely your job is to manage risk as well as to capitalise on opportunities. From Ryanair’s disastrous Twitter chats to Cancer Research UK raising £8m in six days through #nomakeupslfie, social media can go very wrong but also offer the chance to increase your profile or raise significant funds.

Four ways trustees can use social media to help their charities

1. Horizon scanning

As a trustee, I know that keeping up to date with the issues that affect my charity alongside a busy job is a challenge. Trustees can achieve this by following key stakeholders and trade press on Twitter or by using the news feed, Pulse, or relevant groups on LinkedIn. As part of their induction, CEOs could suggest that trustees who are new to the field that their charity works in follow relevant blogs which present complex information in an accessible way.

2. Promote your organisation

A quick and easy way to promote your charity is by using social media. It’s a privilege to sit on a board and CEOs shouldn’t be afraid to ask trustees to add their roles to their LinkedIn profiles or to tweet about their charity.  Surely this would also help increase the transparency of the sector?

3. Communicate with other trustees

Boards often only meet every few months and members will all have a portfolio of other commitments in between. Trustees can keep up to speed with their charities through a closed LinkedIn group and by following their organisation, key staff and other trustees on Twitter. Trustees need to be engaged, just as staff and volunteers do.

4. Introduce their charity to their contacts

The days of trustees opening up their little black books are gone. Now, board members might introduce their CEO to influential people in their network via LinkedIn or Twitter. If CEOs have particular stakeholders in mind they can go on LinkedIn and see if their trustees share any connections with them.

Want to know more?

I’ll be sharing more ideas on how trustees can use social media at the NCVO/ BWB Trustee Conference 2014. Digital communications are a powerful catalyst for change, and my session will help trustees make the most of them, supporting their charities and developing their skills. See you there.

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