Maine Streamlines Its Regulation of Charitable Promotions

October is breast cancer awareness month, and we often see an increased number of charitable promotions being proposed in connection with the cause.  As previously posted about, various structures of charitable promotions and advertising calls-to-action may trigger a myriad of compliance obligations for both the for-profit entity and the charity involved.  After learning of the complex registration and bonding requirements, however, many for-profit organizations scale back their proposed promotions or otherwise alter their course.  The good news for these entities - and for the charities - is that starting October 10th, Maine's streamlined requirements for some charitable promotions will go into effect.  Maine previously had one of the most onerous sets of registration, bonding, and filing requirements for commercial co-venturers.  These applied to anyone "who, for profit, is regularly and primarily engaged in trade or commerce in [Maine], other than in connection with the raising of funds for charitable organizations or purposes, and who conducts a sale, performance, event or collection and sale of donated goods that is advertised in conjunction  with the name of any charitable organization."  The only exception is if the collection and distribution of the proceeds or the collection and sale of donated goods are supervised and controlled by the benefiting charity.  In an effort to what the legislature called "eliminat[e] unnecessary regulation and document filing requirements," Maine entirely removed the requirement that commercial co-venturers register, bond, or otherwise make any filing in connection with their charitable promotions.  Maine maintained filing requirements for charities themselves, professional solicitors, and professional fund-raising counsel, but made adjustments those filing requirements, as well. Also, Maine streamlined the disclosures that commercial co-venturers are required to make in advertising about their promotions.  Now, any "solicitation" must merely disclose the charity's name and physical address, but additional details are no longer required and restrictions on the price charges for goods or services have been removed.  Of course, false advertising and other laws still apply to charitable promotions in Maine and elsewhere, and it is important to get legal counsel involved early in the planning process.