The Do's and Don'ts: Advocacy and Lobbying During an Election Year

Nonprofits (and those that are fiscally sponsored) have every right to advocate on behalf of policies they believe in, but when this advocacy deals with specific legislation, limits and restrictions come into play that you need to know about. What’s more, given heightened passions as the election approaches, all project staff should be reminded that no person, during working hours, or in their capacity as a staff person or volunteer of a project of Community Partners, may take any action or make any payment in support of, or opposition to, any candidate for public office – even in nonpartisan races, or a particular political party. The IRS strictly prohibits this, and a violation can result in the loss of Community Partners’ tax exemption status.

It will be crucial to keep your program liaison abreast of any advocacy or lobbying activities you take on, and to ask us whenever you’re in doubt. Remembering that a misstep by one project has the potential to put our tax-exempt status at risk -- and therefore the activities of all projects -- is also important to keep in mind.

Please take some time to review, and bookmark, some of these resources to help you wade through some of the do’s and don’t’s of advocacy and lobbying as a nonprofit:

We’ll continue to provide reminders and additional resources and information during the year to come.