ASCI Issues Guidelines on Ads for Charitable Causes

On July 20, 2023, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) released a set of guidelines for advertisements for charitable causes. The guidelines seek to find a middle ground between enabling charitable organisations to do their work and protecting the interests of consumers.

In the preamble to the guidelines, the Council expresses that though charitable organisations would want to do everything in their power for fundraising, etc., care must be taken to not mislead or cause distress to consumers.

The advertisements for charitable purposes have to comply with the following guidelines: –

  • The advertisements should not “overtly or pointedly” indicate that consumers who don’t support the initiative or donate ought to feel ashamed or that they somehow fail in fulfilling their responsibilities.
  • The advertisers must refrain from disrespecting the dignity of the persons on whose behalf the funding request is being made. This includes depicting graphic images of victims, especially children and minors, in distress. Further, advertisers have to be able to furnish evidence of express consent of beneficiaries for the use of such images when called upon to do so.
  • If the image portrayed in a digital advertisement may cause distress to consumers, the image would have to be blurred. The same could be made visible to only those consumers who show interest in knowing more.
  • It should not mislead the consumers about the beneficiary and should disclose that the funds could be used for purposes (or beneficiaries) other than the one specified in the advertisement.
  • The amount collected by the crowdsourcing platform in the form of a percentage or fee for the purpose of managing or raising donor funds must be disclosed in the advertisement.