Under the terrifying light of the COVID-19 pandemic, brands want to do their part. While some companies are making masks and other protective equipment, others are partnering with charities and other relief organizations. We are seeing an uptick in cause-related marketing appeals and advertising statements.

Cause marketing is primarily regulated by state law, which varies both in technical requirements and in its applicability. At the root of all enforcement, across every state and under federal law, is the governmental interest of protecting consumers against fraud.

Fraud generally involves separating a consumer from his or her money by means of deception. Thus, the key concern when it comes to a cause-related marketing appeal is whether the marketer does what it says it is going to do.

How should you do good in the right way? For a national brand, trying to address every state law’s requirements can be daunting. With registration and bonding requirements in some states, brands often express frustration when faced with a patchwork of requirements when they are just trying to help. What is the risk of just tying a brand to a charitable cause now, when it matters most?