Meet our Expert

Alex_SwallowAlex Swallow – Founder of Young Charity Trustees

Alex founded Young Charity Trustees in 2011, an organisation which seeks to get more young people on Charity Boards. His prior experience in the sector includes a fundraising and comms role at a small charity, and as the Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition. He is a Trustee, a mentor for CharityWorks and a Fellow of the RSA. 


“We’re a small charity with a million-and-one things to do. We currently aren’t on social media very much. Is it really worth us bothering, given our time constraints?”


The answer


I’ll explain why but first I want to say that you shouldn’t ‘do’ social media just because everyone else is, you should do it because it will make a difference for you. However, like with most things in life you won’t be able to see the difference it makes until you take the first steps and try it.

My 5 tips would be:

1.  Don’t try to do everything at once, pick a platform to focus on. I would recommend Twitter or Facebook at first because these work for most organisations and so many people use them.

2.  Ask someone to show you the ropes. While a lot of social media success is about finding your own way to do things, this doesn’t mean that you have to start off with no support. If you know any other charity which uses social media, ask them for a bit of advice.

3.  Note what others do. When you are using social media, you will learn the most from how others operate. For example if you notice that a particular charity gets a lot of attention, see if there are any tips you can learn from them. In turn, others will learn from you. Always remember that social media is a pretty new phenomenon and every single one of us is learning.

4.  Consider getting a volunteer. Supporting social media can be a rewarding and enjoyable volunteer role. It can be spaced around a volunteer’s other commitments and handled remotely. In a small charity I used to work for, a volunteer living in another city helped me with our online activity.

5.  Give it enough time. This means both investing a small amount of your time- generally the only social media expense, since use of most platforms is free- and also not thinking that you will get immediate results.

Used authentically, (by which I mean with the voice of your charity), over a period of time, social media can help you spread the word about your cause, build partnerships, find volunteers, raise funds, learn from others, enhance your impact and support the whole of the charity sector. I think that’s a good list of reasons as to why you should give it a try.