Issue Advocacy

megaphoneThe IRS clearly states that “501(c)(3) organizations may take positions on public policy issues, including issues that divide candidates in an election for public office”. This could include everything from normal lobbying and public education activities to correcting the record when a candidate misrepresents facts related to your issues.

Communications on issues during an election could be considered partisan if they appear to be an effort to support or oppose a candidate and mention the names of candidates or upcoming elections in a communication.

Guidelines for Issue Advocacy Leading Up to an Election

1.You may continue to lobby or engage in other advocacy activities in the months leading up to an election. Be careful increasing these advocacy activities during the election season. If you step up your advocacy on an issue that this issue is a key point of disagreement between two or more candidates, it may seem as if you are trying to favor the candidate who most closely shares your organization’s views.

2. A history of work on an issue or similar activities in non-election years makes your activity far more likely to be seen as nonpartisan.

3. Responding to an external event such as a shelter closing, an imminent vote on a bill in the legislature, news story related to you mission is another example of what makes your communications nonpartisan. etc. The external event helps to demonstrate that your organization was not motivated by a desire to influence the election.

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