Navigating Electronic Communication: Best Practices for Charities under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

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Effective communication is essential for charities to engage with their donors. However, for organizations in Canada, adherence to the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) adds an extra layer of complexity. While commercial entities must navigate stringent regulations, charities enjoy exemptions, allowing them to connect with supporters without the need for opt-ins or prior two-year business relationships. Despite this legal leeway, responsible and transparent communications remains crucial. In this article, we explore best practices for charities to enhance their electronic communication strategies as they relate to texting, while maintaining ethical standards.

Identify the Sender: Building Trust through Transparency

One of the key elements in electronic communication for charities is to clearly identify the sender. Donors should be informed that the message is from a charity they have supported in the past. This transparency builds trust and ensures that the recipient recognizes the source of the communication.

Express Gratitude: Strengthening the Donor-Charity Relationship

Taking the time to thank donors for their support not only acknowledges their contribution but can also trigger a positive memory of their past relationship with the charity. This simple act of gratitude can significantly strengthen the bond between the donor and the charity.

Offer Communication Preferences: Respecting Donor Choices

Respecting donor preferences is key. Charities should provide options for donors to opt-out of receiving electronic messages if they wish. This demonstrates a commitment to respecting individual choices and fosters a positive perception of the charity’s communication practices.

However, it should be noted that adding “Text STOP to opt-out” to the end of your message is not required in Canada. Using this option automates opt-outs and may result in unnecessary increased opt-outs thus reducing your textable phone list. There’s no point in unduly prompting supporters to opt-out if your message is polite and respectful. We recommend that opt-outs be handled by live agents instead.

Live Agents: Elevating Donor Service Standards

While automation is efficient, having live agents ready to answer questions adds a human touch to the interaction. Some donors may have specific questions or feedback that require a personalized response. Offering live support not only contributes to good stewardship, leaving a lasting impression on the donor, but also encourage them to make donations in the future.

Provide a Callback Number: Ensuring Accessibility

In the event that donors choose to call back in response to a text, having a real human answer the call is a testament to the charity’s commitment to donor service. This accessibility fosters trust and reinforces the notion that the charity values direct communication with its supporters.

Vanity URLs: Increasing Legitimacy

Donation links will usually be quite long due to UTM tracking, which is not ideal to send via SMS. SMS also does not support hyperlinks, and common URL shorteners like and may not appear as trustworthy since they can be used by anyone to shorten any link. A vanity URL (i.e., a personalized web address with the organization’s domain name) will appear more legitimate.

In conclusion, while charities in Canada enjoy exemptions from certain aspects of the Anti-Spam Legislation, adopting responsible and transparent communication practices is essential. The best practices outlined above not only distinguish charities from spam but also contribute to building and maintaining strong relationships with donors. By prioritizing transparency, gratitude, respect for communication preferences, and personalized interaction, charities can navigate the digital landscape successfully, ensuring that electronic communication remains a powerful tool for engagement rather than an intrusion.

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