Social media is proving to be a valuable tool for nonprofit and charity organisations across Australia.
Networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide charities with a cost-effective way to engage with their supporters, and can even be used as a platform for fundraising.
The Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) is welcoming these new technologies, aware that Australians are avid users of social websites.
To help charities get the most out of these mediums, the institute has released a new set of guidelines for social media fundraising.
"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," FIA chief executive Rob Edwards said in a statement released today (August 1).
"Now, in what is believed to be a world first, FIA has produced a code of practice for fundraising using social media."
The Standard of Social Media Fundraising Practice is available for free download on the FIA website.
All Australian charities that are members of the FIA must now abide by the guidelines set out in this document, Mr Edwards said.
He is also encouraging donors to keep an eye out for the official FIA symbol on donation pages, if they want to be certain that their money is going to an organisation under their authority.
"We urge donors to request or look for the symbols of FIA membership so they can be confident their online donation has been ethically raised and managed," he explained.
While on the subject of social media, here are a few ways that charity organisations can help to improve their accountability and transparency on these sites.
Verify your accounts
If you are on Twitter, it is worth taking the time to verify your account. This means that people will know that you are truly the organisation you say you are, not a false creation by an anonymous member of the public.
"The verified badge helps users discover high-quality sources of information and trust that a legitimate source is authoring the account's Tweets," the social network explains.
Check your privacy settings
If you are a prominent figure in a charity organisation then you may benefit from making sure your social media account settings are set to private.
This means you can interact on these networks from your personal account, without being worried that you are sharing information you do not want to share.
Follow the FIA's three guiding principles: transparency, accountability and respect
The main three principles outlined in the new FIA standards are transparency, accountability and respect.
"We urge charities and fundraisers to use FIA's new guidelines to ensure they have an ethical focus in managing their social media activities," Mr Edwards concluded.