With digital ethics reaching a place of newfound prominence within the sector, we look at the charities already ahead of the curve.
Charities carry the responsibility of upholding and demonstrating ethical behaviour to benefit from the trust of the general public. Their ethical conduct extends to digital ethics, as outlined by the Charity Digital Code of Practice. We published some top tips for your charity to embed ethical principles into your digital operations.
Julie Dodd, Parkinson’s UK’s director of transformation and communications, has spoken about the importance of ethics in the sector. “That shift towards the conversation about ethics is starting to really show up and that is a positive thing,” she said, but “there are a lot of questions around ethics that I do not think we as a sector have fully got our heads around”.
Here are some key elements for you to consider:
The rampant proliferation of fake news and data misuse along with security breaches has led to governments scrutinising tech giants and calling for accountability especially around personal data.
The Charity Code of Digital Practice was launched last year to address digital risks and governance. It helps charities adhere to good practice and maintain a high standard of digital ethics.
Social media has an enormous scope to bring people together, amplify charity campaigns and share content featuring cute puppies and delicious meals. However, it can be used just as powerfully by bullies to hurt vulnerable people online.
Adhering to GDPR in the real world also applies online. Whilst engaging with followers on Twitter et al. is easy enough and fairly casual, there are GDPR guidelines around contacting followers and asking for information.
Charities need to be careful about ‘misinformation’, in which facts are deliberately distorted, exaggerated or simply invented to dupe and confuse readers. The general public look to charities to give the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Charities who have embraced digital ethics
Full Fact independently factcheck content published by the media. They do not support any political party or campaign, receive a diverse range of funding and are transparent about all of their income. With safeguards placed throughout their organisation, they demonstrate accountability by seeking corrections where necessary. They have also published a factchecking toolkit empowering the general public with the tools they need to make their own independent decisions and choices.
Recently, news circulated that A&E waiting times were at their ‘worst ever level’ however the recording of waiting times only started in 2010. Although 83.6% of patients across all types of A&E departments did spend up to four hours being admitted, transferred or discharged, it’s not strictly accurate to say ever. Full Fact’s clarification prompted a correction by the Guardian.
Health-focused charities are providing digital health solutions. Whilst emotionally moving campaigns drive donations to drive change, digital channels provide an opportunity to go beyond and promote positive behaviour. The Cancer Research UK mobile app helps raise fitness levels and fundraising by rewarding users for exercise with high street cash vouchers.
The app records progress and connects with Just Giving, donations and goals. It can record swimming, running, cycling and walking. Having an app downloaded on a smartphone can help users easily track their progress and integrate or increase a range of exercise into their daily lives. By providing the tech, Cancer Research UK help users log their information privately and securely.
A number of children’s charities are stepping forward to protect children online. The NSPCC has published information for parents and guardians about sensitive information online, looking out for bullying and sharing personal information.
Kidscape have teamed up with children’s book character Elmer to create a free online info pack for teachers to prevent bullying in primary schools. “We’re helping more and more families who are concerned about bullying in younger children,” said Lauren Seager-Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Kidscape. By educating children about the perils of bullying and taking a preventative approach based on friendliness and kindness, these charities can promote ethical behaviour in the next generation.