There are four constitutional amendments on the November 8th ballot here in Georgia, including one addressing state intervention in public schools found to be “chronically failing” and another proposing to generate revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. If your organization is urging the public to vote yes or no on any constitutional amendment, your activities are considered lobbying activities. Nonprofit §501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to engage in some lobbying activities, just not a substantial amount.
For more information about the amount of lobbying your organization can do, you can access our educational materials on lobbying for nonprofits at http://www.pbpatl.org/nonprofit-legal-alerts/nonprofits-and-lobbying/. If you think you may need legal advice, please contact Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta.
The legal staff at the Packard Foundation, Gates Foundation, Hewlett Foundation and Moore Foundation developed this free resource, which covers the basic legal rules around the electioneering prohibition for both private foundations and public charities. It takes about ninety minutes to complete and features “Maya,” a program officer that helps participants through the course.
Does your organization have a particular interest in how politicians vote on proposed laws? Are there certain politicians you feel better represent your organization’s interests over others? One way organizations can make their members or followers aware of how politicians are voting on select issues of importance is to distribute legislative scorecards. Legislative scorecards are compilations of the voting records of politicians currently in office on proposed bills or ordinances. Legislative scorecards can be useful tools for organizations to inform and update their members or followers, but 501(c)(3) organizations must use caution and comply with specific regulations when distributing legislative scorecards or theyblurred-business-shake.jpg risk losing their tax-exempt status. A new article on our website details those specific regulations.
Starting January 2014, changes to the rules for lobbyists in Georgia will go into effect and nonprofits that lobby should pay attention as the fines for noncompliance are significant. Even if your employees, contractors and volunteers have not had to register as lobbyists in the past, the updated law may require them to register. The old “10 percent” rule is gone, and the standard for who is considered a lobbyist has been both greatly simplified and significantly expanded. Other changes to the law include removal of the registration fees and changes to the definition of permitted lobbying expenditures. Our new article will help your organization determine if the activities of your employees, contractors and volunteers make them lobbyists under the updated Georgia law, and what they need to do if they are considered lobbyists.
As a 501(c)(3), there is a limit on the amount of lobbying your organization can do and an absolute prohibition on any political campaign activity. This webcast will answer the following questions:
• What is the difference between lobbying and political activity?
• What amount of lobbying is acceptable?
• How can your organization do advocacy work without getting into trouble with the IRS?
• What are the danger areas for 501(c)(3) organizations when it comes to political activity?
• What is a 501(h) election?
Presenter: Doug Chalmers, Managing Member, Political Law Group
Lobbying vs. Advocacy
Does your organization lobby for political change? You’re allowed, but there are limits. What is the difference between lobbying and advocacy? Protect your nonprofit status by getting to know these rules.
By: Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta
Did you know that your nonprofit status means that your organization is not allowed to participate in campaigns and certain political activities? Read about it here to avoid this common pitfall.
Please note that in addition to the legal disclaimer above, this article contains information that is based, in whole or in part, on the laws of the District of Columbia. As a result, the information may not be appropriate for organizations operating outside the District of Columbia.