The CRTC has now released new guidance on CASL and charities on its CASL FAQ page (look under the “Registered Charities” heading). The FAQ sheds some more light on how regulators will approach the registered charities “raising funds” exception, which fully exempts electronic messages whose “primary purpose” is to raise funds for a registered charity.
The FAQ explains, perhaps not very helpfully, that a message’s “primary” purpose is its “main” or “principal” purpose. However, it goes on to give some examples.
These are examples of messages whose primary purpose IS to raise funds (and thus that fall under the exemption): a message promoting tickets for a fundraising event where the ticket proceeds flow to the registered charity; an email newsletter that also contains a section that solicits donations (or that mentions corporate sponsors without otherwise encouraging commercial activity with that sponsor).
This last point is an important one, as it clarifies that a charity’s newsletters that include a fundraising link can still benefit from the exemption.
On the other hand, the FAQ states that an email newsletter that advertises the charity’s corporate sponsors and encourages the recipient to participate in a commercial activity with those sponsors likely does not fall under the exemption because its primary purpose is not to raise funds for the charity.
The FAQ also states that an email newsletter that has no content that encourages participation in a commercial activity (i.e., that contains no fundraising material and no corporate sponsor material) is not a CEM and therefore is not subject to CASL in the first place.
This is probably not the final word on CASL and charities, but any guidance from the regulators is welcome.