What The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) Means For Nonprofits

Disclaimer: I am not a Lawyer. This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you are worried about Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) compliance in your organization please seek counsel from your lawyer or another qualified individual.

Canadian Anti-Spam law

The email marketing industry is buzzing with news about the Canadian Anti-Spam law, or CASL, which officially goes into effect on July 1, 2014. The new law sets rules for sending commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to and/or from systems located in Canada. CASL is the most stringent anti-spam legislation in the world today, and sets a new standard for allowable messages and permission based marketing, and violation carries some stiff fines of up to $10 million. Luckily though, if your organization follows current email marketing best practices you should have little (or even nothing) to worry about. But this does mean if you are an organization that sends email to addresses in Canada you should make sure that you are compliant.

CASL Compliance Transition Period

Fortunately, the law has given organizations a 3-year transition period in which you can continue mailing addresses located in Canada who are on your list, and, during that time, take the necessary steps to make sure that you are compiling with the law. There is an exemption for some registered charities but it does not apply to nonprofit organizations.

Defining consent

The biggest distinction CASL makes is likely the definition of consent. CASL defines 2 different types of consent, implied consent and express consent. Implied consent is different from express consent in that the former expires after 2 years, and the later does not expire unless the consent is withdrawn. Much like the US CAN-SPAM act, every message you send must have a clear way to unsubscribe from future messages and it must be easy and free to use this functionality.

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you are a trusted sender who uses good opt-in practices, maintains solid opt-in  and unsubscribe records, keep track of email best practices and you send email from a reputable email service provider you are most likely already compliant. Some ESPs like MailChimp have terms of service that are already more strict than CASL.  If you are less certain about your practices, sending your email without using an email service provider, buying or renting lists from third parties, or using pre-checked boxes as a form of consent you should re-evaluate your practices and bring them in-line with the new CASL legislation.


Here is a list of resources that you will find helpful in determining what you need to do to stay compliant: Full

Full Text of the Law:

What is CASL:

CASL Information for Registered Charities and Not-for-profits:

Listrack CASL resource center:

About CASL from MailChimp:

If you have any questions, let us know in the comments section below and we’ll see if we can help!


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