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Honest, not causing grave harm: Asci releases guidelines on ads for charity

Asci said that there have been some concerns about ads for charitable causes that create donor distress through the use of images that may be too graphic

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Illustration by Binay Sinha

Raghav Aggarwal New Delhi

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Advertisements for charitable organisations and crowdsourcing platforms must not disrespect the dignity of the beneficiaries by showing their graphic images, the Advertising Standards Council of India (Asci) said in its guidelines for charitable causes released on Thursday.

Additionally, these ads must disclose how much of the raised funds will be used as the fee by the platform, it added.

Acknowledging that the crowdsourcing platforms provide reach through ads and organic posts to beneficiaries by helping them tap potential donors, Asci said, "There have been some concerns about ads that create donor distress through the use of images that may be too graphic."

It added that these posts may cause "undue distress" to customers surfing the internet.

"In addition, with crowdsourcing platforms, consumers may not know what amount, from their donation, goes to the beneficiary and what may be kept by the platforms for their administrative fees or charges," it added.

Talking to Business Standard last month, Manisha Kapoor, chief executive officer (CEO )and secretary general of Asci had said that they were working on ad guidelines for charitable organisations.  

Chapter 1 of the guidelines required these ads to be "honest and truthful". Chapter 2 required them to not cause "grave or widespread harm or offence".

Under the new guidelines, the ads of these platforms "shall not overtly or pointedly suggest that anyone who doesn't support the charity fails in their responsibility or should feel ashamed".

Additionally, these ads "must not disrespect the dignity of those on whose behalf an appeal is being made, by any means, including showing graphic images of victims in distress, particularly children and minors".

The guidelines added that the advertiser must be able to produce evidence of express consent for the use of images of beneficiaries if asked to do so.

In digital advertising, any image that could cause unjustified distress to an ordinary consumer must be blurred and made visible only to those interested in knowing more.

The guidelines added that when an appeal is made for a specific case or beneficiary, the ad must disclose if the funds could potentially be used for other purposes or other beneficiaries. "Ads must not mislead consumers about where or to whom their donations are going."

"Asci recognises that charities can have a challenging job explaining the nature of the important, and often sensitive work they do, and raising funds for beneficiaries in need. However, they must take care not to overstep the mark by misleading consumers or causing unjustified distress to those who may be merely surfing online," Kapoor said. 

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First Published: Jul 20 2023 | 12:09 PM IST

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