Most states regulate charitable organizations and promotions conducted by a for-profit company (called a commercial co-venturer) with or on behalf of a charitable organization. Hawaii recently amended its charitable solicitation statute to require, among other things, that charitable organizations register and file annual financial reports with the state. In addition, commercial co-venturers must file with the Attorney General's Office a copy of written consent from the charitable organization whose name will be used during the charitable sales promotion. The commercial co-venturer must file the written consent no less than ten days prior to the commencement of the promotion and the written consent must be signed by both the commercial co-venturer and the charitable organization and include the following:
- The goods or services to be offered to the public;
- The geographic area where, and the starting and final date when, the offering is to be made;
- The manner in which the name of the charitable organization is to be used, including any representation to be made to the public as to the amount or per cent per unit of goods or services purchased or used that is to benefit the charitable organization;
- a provision for a final accounting on a per unit basis to be given by the commercial co-venturer to the charitable organization and the date when it is to be made; and
- the date when and the manner in which the benefit is to be conferred on the charitable organization.
Charitable sales promotion is defined in the statute as an advertising or sales campaign, conducted by a commercial co-venturer, that represents that the purchase or use of goods or services offered by the commercial co-venturer will benefit, in whole or in part, a charitable organization or charitable purpose.
Commercial co-venturer is defined in the statute as a person who, for profit, is regularly and primarily engaged in trade or commerce other than in connection with soliciting for charitable organizations or charitable purposes, and who conducts charitable sales promotions.
Hawaii's amended law is part of a trend among the states of paying more attention to cause-related marketing and, with this new law, Hawaii is joining several other states in requiring the for-profit entity (the commercial co-venturer) to register or otherwise take steps to notify the state of the relationship and the promotional activity.