Lobbying, Political Campaign Intervention, and What Your Collective Can Do
You may have heard that 501(c)(3) organizations are not allowed to be political. That isn't quite correct, but there are limitations on what we, and by extension, our sponsored/hosted Collectives, can do.
Lobbying is attempting to influence specific legislation. According to the IRS, a "substantial part" of our activities cannot be lobbying. Although technically 501(c)(3) organizations may be able to engage in lobbying to a small degree, our program does not allow Collectives to engage in it at all.
Examples of lobbying provided by the IRS include the following:
- Contacting, or urging the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation
- Advocating the adoption or rejection of legislation
According to the IRS, Political Campaign Intervention includes:
- Directly or indirectly participating in - or intervening in, of course - any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective public office
- Contributions to political campaign funds
- Public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate
Just because your Collective cannot lobby around specific potential laws or intervene in elections does not mean that it cannot engage in political activity or be involved in public policy. Examples from the IRS of activities that are allowed include the following:
- Conducting educational meetings,
- Preparing and distributing educational materials
- Otherwise considering public policy issues in an educational manner
- Certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner
- Activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, if conducted in a non-partisan manner
Of course, you are entitled to your own political opinions, but you should be careful about expressing such opinions on behalf of your Collective so that you are not taking a position on a specific election or piece of legislation.