FIA Responds to Social Media ‘Guidelines’ Debate
6 September 2012 at 12:05 pm
Rob Edwards, CEO of the Fundraising Institute Australia
OPINION: The Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) Social Media Guidelines have seen a flurry of online discussion and debate following the publication of an Opinion article on Pro Bono Australia this week. FIA CEO, Rob Edwards responds and reiterates the Guidelines’ purpose.
I am happy to see that our new Standard for Social Media Fundraising is being well read and talked about. The purpose of this Standard, and indeed all of FIA’s Standards, is to ensure charities and fundraisers have an ethical focus in managing their fundraising activities, across all mediums.
We want charities and fundraisers to be seen by donors, volunteers, sponsors and other stakeholders as the professional and ethical organisations and people that you are. We all know that reputation is paramount to successful fundraising and therefore to being able to fulfil your organisation’s mission.
FIA’s Principles and Standards of Fundraising Practice have been designed to set the benchmark for ethical fundraising practice and have been in place since 2008. They complement legislation and mean the sector is recognised for its strict ethical principles when conducting fundraising activities.
With such strong growth in social media and its use in fundraising, we were concerned that there were no guidelines in place for our members, or the public, on this ever-growing fundraising practice. Hence the birth of our latest Standard.
The Standards are developed by a Codes Task Force – a permanent Committee of experienced fundraisers whom report directly to the FIA Board. FIA’s Standard of Social Media Fundraising Practice was developed by drawing on the knowledge of these experienced fundraisers, following research into other social media standards such as those used by universities, major corporations and journalists’ associations, ensuring the Standard is consistent with FIA’s Fundraiser’s Promise to Donors and by making sure the Standard compliments and complies with all relevant State and Federal Laws.
Every Standard goes through the research, drafting and reviewing process and it can take some time to ensure each Standard meets fundraiser’s needs and your legal obligations.
For the majority of fundraising disciplines, this approach works as the landscape for these practices doesn’t change that much. However, this may not be the case for the fast-changing world of social media fundraising.
Do we think we’ve got this Standard right? Generally, yes. The Standard ensures charities and fundraisers act to the highest ethical level and meet all relevant operational and legal obligations in the social media space. As recent cases have shown, social media sites are not immune to ‘real world’ laws and the Standard is designed to help fundraising organisations avoid costly mistakes.