There are many operational challenges to having a presence online
In my last blog I covered some of the strategic issues facing charities when they switch over to digital. So, what are the main ‘operational’ challenges?
The first issue is protection of brand representation and integrity. Controlling output from all those involved is difficult. Tweets, Facebook updates and blog pieces all need to be carefully worded so that the right message is being delivered. Charities will also find that their digital presence will also be used by supporters to make enquiries and mention grievances about their relationship with the organisation.
It is crucial that tight signposting techniques are in place so that the individual can be directed to the right department with the comfort of an acknowledgement. Some organisations may go a step further and use social media as a customer service contact point, like many big private sector brands; British Airways and T-Mobile for instance.
Digital media officers need to proactively monitor their organisation’s output and interactions. Care is specifically required when sharing content, as some posts seem innocent, but their hyperlinks can send you to inappropriate or dangerous websites. In addition, organisations should ensure communications policies are in place to protect staff and other associated individuals from derogatory comments coming from service users – which can vary from comments on how somebody looks to comments on their behaviour during a programme. This is especially true when working with young people who often don’t fully understand their relationships with staff and other participants.
Secondly, organisations must tighten their data protection controls. The consolidation of supporter information in one place poses several risks that need to be minimised through enhanced staff training, systems and software. Boards should be aware of this risk and actively encourage the strengthening of protective measures. This will also settle the nerves of individual givers and ensure the organisation meets fundraising standards.
My third point is specific to organisations working with vulnerable groups. If content is being shared to ‘tell a message’, then be careful and sensitive about the photos and videos that posted (if allowed at all). Ensure the location function is switched off so a picture just shared can’t be traced. Don’t identify individuals, locations or contact details which could open up routes of abuse by the people you’re protecting them from. Also, it is important to ensure vulnerable project participants aren’t easily identifiable via digital conversations or through the digital networks. Lastly, a simple and straightforward guide sheet needs to be created to outline the restrictions on sharing images.