There  is no doubt  that charities are under  intense scrutiny from government and the media. We’ve seen a wave of negative stories recently, from CEOs’ pay to how charities fundraise and communicate.

The  fact is that this level of attention from our  stakeholders is not going away- in fact,  it’s likely to increase. The growing level of interest in these stories shows that there is appetite amongst donors, the public, politicians and journalists to understand what charities do, how they invest donors’ funds and how they make a difference.

In these volatile times, charity leaders must focus on what they can control. Being visible and active on social media could pre-empt negative publicity, demonstrating that they and their organisations are open and engaged. So how can charity CEOs do this most effectively on social media?

Tell people about what you are doing

It may sound glaringly obvious but a quick win in showing how you make a difference as a leader is to explain what you are up to. Talk to people about who you’re  meeting with, events you’re  attending and what your staff are working on. If you run a national charity this is also a good way for regional staff to see what you’re  doing each day.

Share achievements

Why  wait for the annual report to share your charity’s impact? As the CEO, you can use social media to show how your team are making a difference there and then. It’s also a smart way to help colleagues feel  great about their hard work.

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Be prepared  to have  challenging conversations.

Inevitably, given the current climate for charities, people may use social media to ask difficult questions about your charity. Avoid being defensive. Transparency is about being open in your approach and sharing information generously. Overall, if you  are seen to be willing to engage on social media and talk about your charity’s work then this will be very positive for its brand.

It takes courage for charity leaders to put themselves out there on social media, and to some it may even feel counter intuitive. But if we are to help the public understand what we do, how we offer value for money, and how our work changes thousands of lives for the better, then you may be holding the power to do that in the smartphone in your hand.