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What you need to know about Canada’s new Anti-Spam Law

courtesy of harrisonpensa.com

courtesy of harrisonpensa.com

On December 4, Federal Minister of Industry James Moore announced that Bill C-28, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will come into effect on July 1, 2014.  Although Canada’s new anti-spam law comes into effect six months from now, it will face a mandatory review in three years.

The legislation is intended to deter spam and electronic threats. Many everyday activities such as sending an email message to a member, operating an organization’s website, and making a mobile application available for download will soon be subject to new, detailed rules that will likely require you to make significant changes to your operational practices or face tough fines and penalties. Although there are exceptions for charities, many of the requirements are still mandatory.

Organizations will have to adjust to the new law, but most already maintain databases of opt-out consents and provide their members with information on how they can unsubscribe from further marketing materials. The new law establishes some additional form requirements and shifts toward opt-in consents, but the fundamental need to actively manage personal information remains unchanged.

The most significant, and potentially challenging, aspect of CASL is the consent requirement. In essence, all organizations will be required to obtain positive – opt-in – recipient consent to be able to send “commercial electronic messages” (CEMs) to their customers, donors, members and others, unless they have a relationship with the contact that is exempt from the law or can establish implied consent under one of CASL’s specifically defined categories. Due to the difficulties in managing email contact lists to fit within these exceptions, many nonprofits will likely choose to obtain express consent from their donors, past members and other contacts, to ensure compliance.

What the law means for charities and nonprofits:

The full implications are not yet fully known. However, an exemption for messages sent by registered charities that raise funds as their primary purpose was added making the law less cumbersome. According to the government release, “Canadian charities, which operate based on the generosity of Canadians, will be able to continue fundraising as before.” Charities will still need to distinguish between commercial messages used to raise funds and those including the promotion of commercial activities that are not considered to be fundraising activities.

All commercial electronic messages sent by nonprofits that are not registered as charities (including those intended to raise funds) will still fall under CASL.

For messages not exempt from regulation, organizations are required to:

  1. Obtain consent from recipients before sending commercial electronic messages.

1.1.    Consent will be “implied” in the case of “members, donors or volunteers that have been active in the two years immediately prior to the date the message is sent.”

1.2.    Consent is also implied if the recipient’s electronic address is conspicuously published or is disclosed to the sender and is not accompanied by a statement indicating they do not wish to receive commercial electronic messages.  Additionally, the message must be relevant to the recipient’s business, role, functions or duties.

2. Include the sender’s identifying information “and provide information to enable recipient to contact the sender.”

3. Enable the recipient to withdraw consent (unsubscribe option).

Exempt Messages:

  • Those sent to individuals where there is an existing personal or family relationship.
  • Those sent between employees, representatives, and consultants of organizations that have a relationship and the message concerns the activities of the recipient organization.
  • Those sent in response to a request, inquiry or complaint or that are otherwise solicited by the person to whom the message is sent.
  • The first commercial electronic message sent to a recipient that has been referred to the sender by someone who has an existing business, non-business, family, or personal relationship, provided the name of the referring individual is included in the message.

A full listing can be found under “Excluded Commercial Electronic Messages” in the regulations document.

More information can be found at:


Imagine Canada’s Anti-spam exemption for charities press release

CCVO’s Anti-Spam Legislation Review

Government of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation Website

CRA’s Guidance on Fundraising by Registered Charities

ONN: Top Ten Things Nonprofits Need to Know about CASL 

Bennett Jones Canadian Anti-Spam Information Site


Kassie Burkholder, Volunteer Alberta

Sometimes We Can Move the Needle – preliminary results from SCiP

scipIt’s been just over two years since the Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP) was launched and although there is still one more year left iun the 3-year pilot it seems like a good time to take stock of the journey so far. SCiP was collaboratively developed by stdent organizations (ASEC, CAUS, and AGC), the Government of Alberta, and Volunteer Alberta to ensure mutual benefit for both nonprofit organizations and students. Volunteer Alberta manages the day-to-day programming, promotions, and operations of the program on behalf of the partners.

There are three broad program objectives for SCiP:

  • Create meaningful opportunities for students to develop skills and deepen applied learning opportunities to support personal and career goals
  • Foster an appreciation for community engagement while supporting the efforts of nonprofit organizations to achieve their mission and strengthen local communities
  • Increase student awareness of the important contributions of the nonprofit sector to their communities and the possibilities of working in this sector.

These objectives guide how we measure and evaluate the program and based on the data collected so far we are starting to get a sense of the impact of SCiP, here are some highlights:

  • 375 internships were completed in year one of SCiP and 741 were completed in  year 2
  • By the end of year two of SCiP 5424 students have registered and 765 organizations have registered
  • 103 or 14% of year 2 completed internships were filled by repeat students who also completed internships in year 1 of SCiP
  • 75% of interns are female students, and most interns are 20 – 25 years of age

Survey Results*

  • 85% of organizations indicate that SCiP has a positive impact on their knowledge/ability to strategically engage post-secondary students
  • 94% of organizations indicate that SCiP has had a positive impact on their ability to meet mission
  • 93% of interns indicated they would do another SCiP internship
  • 63% of interns indicated that SCiP increased their awareness of the nonprofit sector as a place of employment
  • 99% of interns reported that SCiP has helped them gain practical skills and knowledge that will have value in their future employment
  • 85% of interns responded that SCiP has increased their awareness of the value of the nonprofit sector  to society/community
  • Before their internship 21% of interns were looking at the sector as a possible place of employment and after their internship 85% of interns were looking at the NPVS as a possible place of employment.
  • Before an internship 5% of interns stated that the nonprofit sector was their preferred sector of employment compared to 14% of interns after completing an internship.
  • 89% of student indicated that the $1000 bursary motivated them to apply for SCiP.

The statistics demonstrate that organizations and students are experiencing significant benefits from participating in SCiP. The program is developing a cohort of post-secondary students who recognize that the nonprofit sector has many professional opportunities and employment potential. Likewise, organizations are gaining key insights into how to mentor and engage students and new graduates meaningfully in ways they might not have considered before. Of course there have been bumps along the way and there is still a lot of work to be done to really capture the full impact of the 3-year pilot, but for now we can take comfort that positive change is being realized.

For the last word here some examples of the positive feedback SCiP has received:

“My internship at Hope Mission was incredible. It was a fun and humbling experience. I learned many new skills helping in the areas of Special Events and Fundraising, and Volunteer Services. I helped with grant writing; I got to help with planning, organizing and coordinating special events. The internship provided housing at the shelter and living there really completed the experience. I learned way more than I expected. I hope to take all I’ve learned with me in my education, my career and my life in general.”

 – Anonymous student Intern, year 2

“We have recruited 12 SCIP interns in the past year and all of our interns have been a great help to the organization. SCIP helps our organization fulfil the need of students to gain meaningful experience in their said field of academic majors. It also benefits the organization to achieve its goals and outcomes because of the relentless efforts done on part of these students in fulfilling their assigned tasks.”

– Anonymous SCiP Organization, year 2

*Report statistics were collected in 2 surveys during year 2 of SCiP from students and organizations. 214 organizations received the survey with a response rate of 80%, 741 students received the survey with a response rate of 54%


Annand Ollivierre, Program Manager

What DO Volunteers Want?

CCI-Lex Cultural Connections EDITED (2)Volunteer Canada just released their 2013 Volunteer Recognition Study, and I highly recommend it to anyone who works with volunteers! It’s an easy and enlightening read. Best of all, there some big surprises that will (hopefully) improve how the sector works with and recognizes our volunteers.

To give you a taste, here are some of the biggest gaps the study identified between what our organizations think our volunteers want and what they truly appreciate:

  1. In the study, volunteers said that their least preferred forms of recognition included formal gatherings (ex. banquets) and public acknowledgment (ex. radio ads or newspaper columns). These methods are common for many organizations, with 60% using banquets and formal gatherings, and 50% using public acknowledgement as their recognition strategies.Instead, volunteers indicated that they would prefer to be recognized through hearing about how their work has made a difference, and by being thanked in person on an ongoing, informal basis.
  2. Over 80% of organizations said a lack of money was the most common barrier to volunteer recognition. Since the study shows that volunteers prefer personal ‘thank-you’s and being shown the value of their work over a costly banquet or a public advertisement, funds need not get in the way of good recognition!
  3. Volunteers said that the volunteer activities they are least interested in are manual labour, crafts, cooking, and fundraising. According to the 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP), fundraising is the most common activity in which organizations engage volunteers.Instead, volunteers said that their preference is to work directly with people benefiting from their volunteering, or in opportunities where they can apply professional or technological skills.

These findings ring true in my own experiences as a volunteer. I really appreciate it when I am told I did a good job, or that a client made special mention of my work – it shows me that giving my time truly made a difference, which is the reason I volunteer in the first place. Conversely, I tend to avoid going to volunteer appreciation parties or awards ceremonies. My dislike for big social events is a personal preference (I’d much rather stay home with my cats!), but even the most outgoing and social volunteers are likely busy just like me.  It is very difficult to schedule an event that every volunteer can come to, and, if that is the only time made for recognition, then a lot of volunteers won’t receive any at all.

The good news is that while our sector may at times drop the ball on volunteer recognition, the changes recommended by the 2013 Volunteer Recognition Study are very attainable. We already know the value of our volunteers – now we just have remember to communicate that to them! Read the whole study for more straightforward tips and ideas on how to step up your organization’s volunteer recognition.

For more from Volunteer Canada on volunteer recognition, please visit their Guidelines and Helpful Hints for Volunteer Recognition. You can also visit Volunteer Alberta’s Resource Centre (VARC) for books and articles on the subject.

Sam Kriviak, Program Coordinator

Coffee Donations A Reminder of Alberta’s Generous Nature

coffeeLast week’s random mass coffee donations that started in Alberta (and quickly spread across the country) said something great about our province. It demonstrated the genuine and selfless generosity of people in Alberta. Now, of course, that money may have made a greater impact had it gone to a worthy nonprofit organization, but that doesn’t make the gestures any less generous. These anonymous coffee donations serve as a reminder that while there is always more to be done and room for improvement, Albertans are a giving people – whether it is a cash (or in kind) donation or contribution of volunteer hours.

According to the 2010 CSGVP, Albertans contributed an average of 140 volunteer hours and $562 in donations in 2010. Those are positive numbers, but the really encouraging trend is the steady increase in the rate of volunteerism among Albertans from 2004 (48%) to 2007 (52%) to 2010 (55%). Alberta’s population currently sits at 4 million people, with the provincial government projecting that it will swell to 6 or 7 million by 2041. That means demand will certainly rise for services provided by Alberta’s nonprofits, but if the promising upward trend in volunteerism continues we will meet the challenge.

A donation of 500 cups of coffee doesn’t directly address any of the social problems the nonprofit/voluntary sector is currently focused on. However, it serves as a reminder that Albertans care about one another and that the people of Alberta possess a powerful spirit of giving. This spirit of giving will be tested in the coming years, but there is reason for optimism for Alberta, its nonprofit sector and its most vulnerable citizens.


Tim Henderson, Office and Communications Coordinator

Vital Signs Reports on the Quality of Life in ‘The Gas City’

Another year has gone by and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Alberta has reported on the quality of life in Medicine Hat and surrounding areas. The Vital Signs report and its findings were presented at the Medicine Vital Signs Lunch Event. At this year’s luncheon, Twitter played a central role in the conversation surrounding the report. The panel, made up of Medicine Hat’s social media gurus, helped lead the discussion and point out some interesting facts. The following are facts and figures from the report:

  • According to the lifestyle and recreation data, Medicine Hat spends less per capita on recreation than other municipalities in the area, which might help explain our high obesity rate of 24.2%. Medicine Hat also experiences a high rate of individuals over the age of 12 who identify themselves as smokers. These numbers are puzzling given that many clubs in Medicine Hat, like the Kinsman, offer free skating in the winter and free swimming in the summer. Across the city, you can find numerous parks, water parks and walking paths available to the public! KidsSport is another wonderful option to help keep children active, regardless of parental income. I will leave it to health professionals to explain why our community is so unhealthy overall!
  • Feel like you need a Mexican get-away to enjoy the sunshine? You may be surprised to find that Medicine Hat is among the sunniest places to live in Canada.We rank second for sunniest days, but also score in the top 5 for hottest summers, driest climate, and most days without rain! People have been known to shovel snow in t-shirts because the sun is blazing during the winter months.
  • Over the years, average income between men and women has differed greatly and this year is no exception; there is a $29,000 gap. Men are surpassing women in wages across the province, and often, even when women are doing the same jobs as men. This is something that has always bothered me.
  • Ending homelessness has been the focus of many organizations in Medicine Hat since 2009. In the first year, 270 individuals and 150 children were re-housed, or diverted away from homelessness. In the second year, 114 individuals and 40 children were lifted out of homelessness! The community members and organizations dedicated to this cause deserve an endless round of applause.

I could go on and on about the interesting facts and figures in this report! My blog would never end. Our city received no conclusive rating, but the Vital Signs report gets an A+ from me!


Amanda Liepert

Knowledge Exchange Coordinator (South Region)

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