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Elections & Nonprofits: Do’s and Don'ts. www.clpi.org AGENDA Benefits of election activities The law concerning nonprofits and election activities Do’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Elections & Nonprofits: Do’s and Don'ts. www.clpi.org AGENDA Benefits of election activities The law concerning nonprofits and election activities Do’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Elections & Nonprofits: Do’s and Don'ts

2 AGENDA Benefits of election activities The law concerning nonprofits and election activities Do’s and Don’ts

3 BENEFITS

4 How do nonprofits benefit from election activities? More voices heard. Complement to other advocacy work. Increased visibility. Relationships.

5 THE LAW

6 The Law Nonprofits may not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” Internal Revenue Code §502(c)(3)

7 More Law: Specific Limitations “Activities which constitute participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate include, but are not limited to, the publication or distribution of written or printed statements or the making of oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to such a candidate.” Internal Revenue Code §502(c)(3)

8 More Law: Ramifications “If a charity does intervene in a political campaign, it will lose its tax exempt status and its eligibility to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.” Instructions for IRS Form 990

9 More Law: Permissible Activities “Non-partisan voter education activities (including public forums and voter education guides) are permitted.” Instructions for IRS Form 1023, Application for Tax-Exempt Status

10 More Law: Permissible Activities “Non-partisan activities to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, are not prohibited political activity.” Instructions for IRS Form 1023, Application for Tax-Exempt Status

11 DO’S & DON’TS

12 BASIC DO’S & DON’TS: DO: Be neutral and objective in all your activities. Continue normal lobbying activities. DON’T Support or oppose any candidates or political parties in any way.

13 DON’T… DON’T make or publish oral or written materials supporting a candidate. DON’T rate candidates. DON’T publicize which candidates share your organization’s views. …endorse a candidate or political party.

14 DON’T… DON’T make or publish oral or written materials against a candidate. DON’T rate candidates. DON’T publicize which candidates don’t share your organization’s views. …oppose a candidate or political party.

15 DON’T… DON’T fundraise for a candidate. DON’T let a candidate or campaign staff use office equipment. DON’T give employees paid time off to campaign. …use organizational resources (e.g., money, time, facilities, contact lists, etc.) for or against any candidate.

16 DO… DO ensure your drive is not biased for or against any candidate. Drives can be targeted in nonpartisan ways, including:  Areas or people served by the organization.  Areas with low turn outs. …conduct voter registration drives.

17 VOTER REGISTRATION Ideas: Register your board, staff, volunteers, and members. Distribute registration forms at your meeting and events. Set up a table in a busy neighborhood.

18 DO… DO educate the public about issues, including the issues your organization cares about. DO educate candidates, too. …implement voter education projects.

19 VOTER EDUCATION Ideas: Display sample ballots. Host candidate debates or forums. Send a questionnaire to candidates and publish the results in a voters guide. Collaborate with other nonprofits.

20 CANDIDATE DEBATES/FORUMS Questions must:  Address a broad range of issues.  Not suggest the “right” response.  Not be designed to help or hurt a candidate. All viable candidates for an office must be invited. The rules must not favor any candidate.

21 Candidate Questionnaires Questions must:  Be clear and unbiased.  Cover a broad range of issues.  Provide the opportunity for the candidate to give a short explanation to questions posed as “Yes/No/Undecided.” If published, questions must be presented in the voters guide the same way they are posed in the questionnaire.

22 CANDIDATE EDUCATION Ideas: Send the candidates a policy paper on your issue(s). Inform the candidates about your programs. NOTE: Be sure to provide the same level of support and information to ALL candidates in a particular race!

23 DO… DO ensure your drive is not biased for or against any candidate. Drives can be targeted in nonpartisan ways, including:  Areas or people served by the organization.  Areas with low turn outs. …conduct get-out-the-vote (GOTV) drives.

24 GOTV Ideas: Encourage people to vote by  Posting information on when and where to vote.  Helping people request early ballots.  “Selling” democracy. Facilitate trips to the polls  Provide transportation to and from polling places.

25 DO… …allow staff time off to vote. …encourage your board, staff, volunteers, and members to volunteer as poll workers or translators.

26 REMEMBER! These do’s and don’ts apply to the organization. Individual staff members and board members may engage in any electioneering activities as private citizens, when not representing the organization.

27 Questions? For additional information, please see:  Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest (202)  Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network (651)


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