Nonprofit Dos and Don't's

How to Speak Out Without Threatening Your 501 (c) (3) status


| September 2, 2004


The Lawyer's Alliance offered nonprofits some advice on how to be as political as possible without threatening tax-exempt status, and usually, this involves taking great care. One is for nonprofits to identify their organization's position on issues, rather than identifying candidates' political positions. When candidates come to an event held by a non-profit, the non-profit should write them a letter explicitly explaining that this is not a campaign stop. Non-profits should avoid linking their websites to political or campaign sites. Employees can only work on a campaign on their own time. While allowing staff a day off to protest the RNC is iffy, quietly encouraging a weekend gathering just might slip.

Indeed, this list seems to offer more 'don't's' than 'do's' for non-profits. For instance, after going to the workshop, the INCA relief, a Muslim Humanitarian organization, decided not to endorse the anti-RNC protests. In the office, though, talk was of attending the protests and employees were very eager to be political.
-- Elizabeth Dwoskin

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