..Well Actually I Can’t Promise You Will Win Anything.
That was one subject tackled in a slideshow/PDF Venable LLP posted from a talk they did in early August, How Nonprofits Can Raise Money and Awareness through Promotional Campaigns without Raising Legal Risk. The slideshow proper is followed by resource documents that delve a little deeper into many of the topics.
The collected information is a great basic resource on many of the legal questions you may have about different sorts of promotional and fundraising techniques like raffles, games of skill and chance. The laws of many states make it necessary to have the “No Purchase Necessary” option and the ease (or lack thereof) of taking advantage of that option is frequently a subject of legal action.
While every state has different laws, the slideshow helps to clarify the general distinguishing characteristics of these activities. For example, I wasn’t aware of some of the following:
Some less obvious examples that may satisfy the “chance” criterion include those in which: a prize is awarded to the “100th” store (or Web site) visitor on a particular day; the amount of the prize depends on the number of people who decide to participate; the prizes are of unequal value; or, a drawing is used to break a tie, or a single prize is divided between tied winners.
The document addresses some of the issues use of the Internet to solicit contributes raises in relation to social media and rules dealing with being registered as a charity in other states if a significant amount of contributions is originating from there.
One of the biggest legal situations they discuss is the commercial co-venture (CCV) where a business might promote that a portion of a purchase will go to benefit a charity. NY State launched an investigation regarding companies that did that in relation to breast cancer and turned up a great deal of fraud. Apparently half the states have laws regulating CCVs in terms of disclosure and the manner in which the relationship is promoted.
Use of social media for solicitations is apparently a gray area legally so the suggestion is to proceed with the same care you would if you were making the same appeals face to face or in print. There are also concerns that you respect privacy when collecting user data, especially from children, and protect the data from theft. Geolocating and behavioral advertising and tracking are identified as hot button issues.
However each social media service has a number of their own rules of which you need to be aware.
For example with Facebook:
-Promotion may not be administered directly on the site, must be administered through a third-party Facebook Platform application
– Cannot use Facebook functionality or feature as an entry mechanism; e.g., “Liking” a profile page or posting a comment on a wall. Also cannot condition entry into the promotion upon taking any other action on Facebook; e.g., liking a status update or uploading a photo.
• However, can condition entry on a user “liking” a Facebook page, checking in to a “Place”, or connecting to the Facebook platform based promotion application as part of the entry process. E.g, can require that users “like” a Facebook page and then submit a completed entry form to enter.
This was something of a surprise because it seems like I get requests to like things all the time and have seen it tied to a chance to win something. I have been trying to remember about how they have been structured.
Facebook is also pretty strict about requiring groups to provide notice that Facebook is not associated with the promotion really in any way.
Another area of concern is intellectual property rights. If you are encouraging people to submit some sort of creative project you can run into a number of issues,
“Incorporating user-generated content in a marketing campaign could expose the sponsor to liability for libel, copyright infringement, violation of one’s right of privacy/publicity, deceptive advertising, trademark infringement, or other violations.”
While social media sites and marketers are protected from liability for what people submit or post on their sites, if you turn around and use the submitted content to promote your organization or product thinking it is entirely original, you could be in quite a bit of trouble.
If you look at the slide show but have more questions, it is really worth looking at the additional resource documents at the end. There are some good short articles that deal with the Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media promotion and