Nonprofits and Politics

With the mid-term elections right around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to brush up on some of the rules regarding nonprofits and politics. It is important for tax exempt 501 (c) (3) organizations to remain bi-partisan, because failing to do so could result in the loss of their tax exempt status.

Some acceptable activities include:

  • Encouraging Voter Registration through bipartisan and unbiased ‘Get-Out-The-Vote’ drives
  • Educate the public on issues and encourage participation in the political process
  • Holding public candidate forums as long as all candidates have equal opportunities to speak
  • Work on behalf of a ballot measure
  • If you are able to do so, you can take an unbiased educational approach when speaking out about public policy issues concerning your organization.

Unacceptable activities include:

  • Support or Oppose any one candidate verbally or in writing
  • Contributing financially to a specific campaign
  • Ranking candidates in any materials published by your organization
  • Fundraising for a particular candidate
  • Asking a candidate to give his or her opinion of your organization
  • Coordinating activities with a candidate

Ultimately, if you have any specific questions regarding whether or not a specific activity is permitted – we’d strongly encourage you to consult with a qualified lawyer. Taking chances just isn’t worth the risk to your organization’s tax exempt status.

Sources:
Advocacy or Intervention, published by Hoffman, Steward & Schmidt, P.C. Newsletter
www.muridae.com/nporegulation/lobbying.html#lobbying_political