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Marketing Emails – Your Legal Responsibilities

**When sending marketing emails, there are additional legal responsibilities that you have to comply with. This article seeks to outline the basics. Consult an attorney for legal advice.**


The primary law affecting your organization will be the CAN SPAM act. A compliance guide to help understand your legal responsibilities can be found here:

The above article outlines your 7 key responsibilities. Donor Wrangler gives you the tools needed to comply with all of these requirements. However, your message content, and who you send emails to, is your responsibility. Any abuse can result in your access to the marketing emails feature being suspended.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) may also apply to your organization. These acts are similar in concept, though GDPR is stricter, as it has no restrictions on who must apply the rules. The main issue is that you must have informed consent from the donor before collecting their information or opting them into marketing communications. In other words, if you don’t have an explicit “Yes, you can email me” from the donor, you can’t sign them up for or send them marketing emails.

While the GDPR and CCPA rules may not apply to you currently, new laws are being debated in multiple statehouses that would institute similar rules in other places around the country, so you should get in the habit of being compliant now. Some suggestions:

  • If you have a paper donation form that donors fill out, add a checkbox that lets the donor say whether or not they want to sign up for your marketing emails. You must then retain that form as proof of consent.
  • On online donation forms, add a required field that donors must select whether or not they want to receive your emails.
  • Encourage donors to opt themselves in using a signup form on your website.

In the end, you are responsible for creating and maintaining your email lists. Be sure to respect your donor’s wishes, and the law.

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