Advocacy Rights of Nonprofit Organizations

We understand that legislative advocacy is an essential component to achieve many of our clients’ goals. Our partners have extensive legislative advocacy experience. We have worked at federal agencies in Washington, D.C. promoting legislation and have testified on Capitol Hill before the United States Senate and Congress, and before state legislatures.

Many charitable organizations do not understand how to lobby. We can mold lobbying campaigns for charitable organizations that comply with the strict political and lobbying requirements of the Internal Revenue Code, to ensure that charities do not lose their
501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization status.

We also help Section 501(c)(4) organizations stay within IRS lobbying and political rules, including the political activity “primary” rule.

We are passionate about the right of organizations to express their first amendment rights of advocacy within the confines of the law. Many organizations are not knowledgeable about their options to lobby and advocate in elections. We provide advice about:

  • Section 501(c)(3) lobbying limits
  • Advocacy rights of ballot measure campaigns
  • Electioneering issues
  • Taxes on political expenditures and “de minimis” violations
  • Distribution of literature
  • Endorsement of candidates
  • Candidate forums and debates
  • Candidate questionnaires
  • Briefing candidates and parties on organization issues
  • Voter Guides
  • Voter registration drives and GOTV
  • The use of polls
  • Slate cards
  • Independent expenditures
  • Issue advocacy/Express advocacy

We construct alternative vehicles for organizations so they can obtain the fullest potential for advocacy. This often involves the establishment of “sister” nonprofit organizations or separate segregated funds. We work with various combinations of Section 501(c)(3),
501(c)(4), and 527 organizations to create functional models that meet a client’s advocacy goals. Once established, we advise clients on how to operate these models so they comply with IRS tax law, and federal or state election law.

We also help clients create grassroots lobbying campaigns – again, within the IRS and federal and state election laws. Once these campaigns are established, we help clients use direct mail programs to implement their advocacy projects. We prepare their applications for nonprofit postal permits and advise them on the legalities of using nonprofit postage. We prepare testimony before legislative bodies, and review all aspects of a grassroots lobbying campaign before it is implemented.

Our attorneys are experienced with the interplay between the Lobbying Disclosure Act and the Tax Code on “lobbying.” When necessary, we help clients register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.