Cause-Related Marketing

Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy – safely, effectively and the right way


With high-profile, charitable sales promotions under a regulatory microscope, particularly the New York Attorney General’s scrutiny of “pink” campaigns, it is more important than ever for corporations and nonprofit organizations undertaking cause-related marketing (CRM) relationships to be thoroughly educated and counseled on the legal requirements for such campaigns.  Compliance with state commercial co-venture (CCV) laws, state charitable solicitation registration laws, federal tax laws, federal and state false-advertising laws, and Better Business Bureau (BBB) standards is critical to successful corporate philanthropy and cause-marketing campaigns.

Venable is a national leader with broad and deep experience advising nonprofit organizations on best CRM practices to help them safely develop and effectively manage the fundraising campaigns that are becoming increasingly vital to the success of nonprofits and their corporate sponsors.  Charitable sales promotions create inherent susceptibility to scrutiny and reputation risk.  At Venable, virtually no CRM legal issue or problem is new to us.

Our industry-leading advertising and nonprofit practice teams have helped clients develop comprehensive CRM strategies, evaluate suitable nonprofit and corporate partners, as well as celebrity spokespersons, and have negotiated dozens of cause-marketing agreements for nonprofits and corporations.  Our attorneys are well versed in registration, bonding, accounting, and disclosure requirements for CRM, as well as the potential federal tax law consequences of CRM activity for the benefitting charity.  We regularly advise clients on federal and state advertising and marketing requirements for such undertakings, helping clients to ensure that such activity does not run afoul of state and federal laws on unfair or deceptive advertising.  Venable also has a wealth of experience in representing clients’ state attorney general investigations and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement matters related to advertising and marketing.

Venable’s CRM practice is uniquely positioned to provide CRM advice, which falls at the intersection of Venable’s nationally recognized advertising and nonprofit practices.  The practice has assisted major clothing retailers, manufacturers, grocers and other companies in developing their national cause-marketing efforts.

Advertising and marketing advice that prevents problems with regulators to avoid potential legal minefields.

Marketing messages for consumer products and services must meet ever-evolving standards set by several federal and state agencies and must also withstand fierce monitoring by consumer watchdog groups.  Venable attorneys have helped develop messages for a wide range of products.  Each year, we review hundreds of television and radio commercials, print ads, catalogues, direct mail, free-standing inserts and coupons, rebates, and social media campaigns.

Sweepstakes and promotional contests that work across the country.

Promotional contests and sweepstakes are often part of a cause-related marketing strategy, but they must satisfy an array of confusing federal and state standards.  We help you plan successful campaigns, and we draft contest rules, review advertising materials, and handle registration and bonding issues unique to nonprofit concerns.

Whatever the medium, we help ensure that your message gets through.

Venable leads in planning and executing multi-channel marketing strategies, including television, Internet and direct-response campaigns.  When needed, our attorneys represent clients before the FTC, Federal Communications Commission, the Postal Rate Commission, and in federal and state courts on the full range of communications and marketing issues.  In addition, consumer products and services clients benefit from the wide resources of Venable in all aspects of communications law, including marketing uses of electronic media and mass-media distribution of programming via conventional television and multi-channel distribution systems.  Moreover, we have advised many clients on the innovative use of electronic and mobile payments in connection with cause-related marketing.

The Venable advantage: deep experience with nonprofit legal issues.

With more than 600 nonprofit clients nationwide, Venable has the largest concentration of attorneys in the country providing counseling and advocacy for charities, trade associations, professional societies, foundations, advocacy groups, private schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, and other types of nonprofit organizations.

Our clients—ranging from some of the nation’s largest philanthropic charities to a “who’s who” of trade and professional associations—call on us for assistance in matters of general nonprofit law and in matters unique to their industries, professions, causes or issues.

This national experience has allowed Venable to develop practical, proven experience with the most common and the most unusual issues in the development and execution of cause-marketing programs that is unmatched by any other firm.  To our clients, Venable is a dependable partner and ally in cause-related marketing and corporate philanthropy.

Venable attorneys regularly speak and author articles on cause-related marketing and related legal topics.  To read any of the articles or presentations, please visit www.Venable.com/nonprofits/cause-related-marketing/.