The charity communications professionals membership body CharityComms is setting up a working group that will consider how charities can respond to public criticism.
It will organise a round-table discussion next month that will involve groups including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Charity Commission and the Charity Finance Group. In addition, communications and fundraising practitioners from charities including Action for Children, the British Heart Foundation, the Disasters Emergency Committee and Scope plan to attend.
The group will look at how to deal with specific questions, such as media requests for information about executive pay and explaining the contribution that the sector makes to society.
Vicky Browning, director of CharityComms, said the first meeting would take place on 1 October.
"There is a feeling throughout the sector that the atmosphere is more charged than it has been almost in living memory," she said. "The media, politicians and the public are questioning much more what charities are up to and a lot of the language is much more negative than it has been in the past."
Browning said there were opportunities to boost the public’s exposure to charities and to build understanding about the contribution they make to society. For example, there might be opportunities to work with television producers to identify opportunities, she said. She cited Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam, who appeared on the Channel 4 show Undercover Boss.
Industry professionals who want to be involved in the process should contact Browning at Vicky@charitycomms.org.uk.
The timeline for developing tools that charities can use to respond to negative publicity is not yet clear, but Browning said it could take between one and three years.