Back on July 1st, 2014, the Canadian Government passed the Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) which set in place rules that required sender consent prior to the delivery of certain types of email messages. At that time, a 3-year period was set for organizations across the country to bring themselves into compliance with the new rules. That period is rapidly coming to an end and, as of July 1st, 2017, all Canadian charities must now comply with the rules.
As it stands for most email activities that charities undertake, there are written exemptions in place; these activities include:
• Soliciting donations
• Selling tickets to dinners, golf tournaments, and other fundraising events
• Selling tickets for lotteries
• Promoting walks, fun runs and other similar events
• Providing information and updates on the cause (i.e. newsletters) as long as they do not include advertising
However, there are certain activities that some charities undertake that do require that they be in compliance with the rules, for example:
• Product sales
• Organizations such as arts groups and cultural institutions, promoting ticket sales for upcoming events
So What Does this Mean for Me?
As of July 1st, 2017, we expect that government enforcement will now be far more rigorous. To date, the CRTC, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Competition Bureau have undertaken several investigations and charges have been levied on organizations across the country. We expect that after the deadline, this activity will increase.
What Do I Need to Do?
Firstly, we recommend that you immediately undertake a final review of your email communications and data selections to ensure that you have in place coding and processes to tag the following three groups:
1. Records that have explicitly opted in for email communications (please refer to the links below for details on what qualifies as explicit opt-in)
2. Records that meet one of the following criteria (implicit consent)
• donated to you in the last two years (either cash or in-kind contributions)
• volunteered for you in the last two years
• been a member of your organization in the last two years
• entered into a contract with your organization in the last two years
• purchased a good or service from you in the last two years, or
• made an inquiry about your commercial offerings in the last six months.
3. All other records with emails
By identifying each group in your database, you will have lists ready to communication with depending on the content of each email.
Secondly, ensure that you have in place a robust explicit opt-in system between your website and database. For guidance on what this should include, please refer to the links below.
Finally, ensure that all outbound emails, regardless of whether they need to comply with CASL or not, contain an easy to use unsubscribe functionality AND that the information collected through these is updated in your database in a timely manner so that it can be considered for subsequent email activity.
If you have questions or are unsure on what steps you need to take, please feel free to contact our Digital Director Peter Seybold at firstname.lastname@example.org