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“POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND LOBBYING FOR CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS WHAT WORKS? WHAT IS LEGAL?” JOE GEIGER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PANO.

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Presentation on theme: "“POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND LOBBYING FOR CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS WHAT WORKS? WHAT IS LEGAL?” JOE GEIGER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PANO."— Presentation transcript:

1 “POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND LOBBYING FOR CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS WHAT WORKS? WHAT IS LEGAL?” JOE GEIGER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PANO

2 QUIZ 1.Is Pennsylvania a state or a commonwealth? 2.Largest County? 3.Number of bills proposed? 4.Number of bills signed?

3 GENERAL THOUGHTS There is no such thing as perfect public policy - Feudal times… This is not rocket science - relationships If you are not at the table, who is? Sticking your head in the sand does not mean you won’t get hurt - opinion on NPO All social legislation ever passed has been the result of community benefit lobbying Grassroots lobbying is crucial

4 WE ARE CREATING MORE COMPETITION FOR THE SAME DOLLAR We are fighting among the nonprofit community to see whose issue is the most important issue

5 THREE COMMON BARRIERS TO INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLIC POLICY Legality – Is it legal for 501(c )(3) organizations to advocate and lobby? Legitimacy – Is it legitimate and appropriate for nonprofits to advocate and lobby? Effectiveness – How can nonprofits advocate effectively?

6 LEGALITY OF CHARITY LOBBYING OVERVIEW Origins of Federal Restrictions  Tradeoff for tax-deductible contributions Sources of Federal Restrictions  IRS – restricts all 501 (c)(3) nonprofits  OMB A-122 Circular – Prohibits use of federal funds for lobbying and political activity Grant contract – Contractual restrictions are another possible restraint on the use of particular funds for lobbying

7 LETTER FROM IRS Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest answers nine key questions regarding the legality of nonprofit lobbying A common misunderstanding among charities is that the clear prohibition on using federal funds to lobby prevents them from using other funds for lobbying

8 LEGITIMACY OF NONPROFIT ADVOCACY Why advocate for change in public policy?  Serves your mission and clients  Serves policymakers by providing information and solutions  Contributes to better public policy outcomes  Promotes civic participation and democratic values  It feels good

9 LOBBYING! It’s the right thing to do! Basic to our democratic way of life It is perfectly legal If you don’t lobby, you may miss an opportunity to help those you serve If you are not at the table, who will be? Provide a voice for many who do not have access (Three Execs in the countryside)

10 IRS DEFINITION OF LOBBYING Contacting or urging the public to contact legislators for the purpose of proposing, supporting or opposing legislation The organization advocates the adoption or rejection of specific legislation

11 ELECTIONEERING Charities are prohibited by law from engaging in electioneering Neither party has a monopoly on brains or ethics

12 PENALTIES 10% excise tax organizations Individuals Loss of tax exemption

13 QUASI-ALLOWABLE ACTIVITIES Voting Records Questionnaires Public Forums Awards Voter Registration Transportation to elections Cannot target a particular demographic to the exclusion of another.

14 INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL ACTIVITIES Contributions Volunteering Letters of Support

15 DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY PROGRAM The Three-legged Stool  Grassroots  Media  Legislative

16 GRASSROOTS LOBBYING “All politics is Local” – Tip O'Neill – What does this mean? The power of grassroots emanates from the fact that politicians should be responsive to their constituents In fact, most politicians do believe they should be responsive, and are looking for input from constituents

17 MEDIA LEG OF YOUR ADVOCACY PLAN – START WITH GOALS Discuss why the media is necessary for an advocacy plan Learn what is newsworthy- Who’s perspective? Understand the components of crafting a message for the media Become familiar with media tools and rules Gain experience crafting the message

18 LEGISLATIVE LEG OF YOUR ADVOCACY PLAN Identify how government impacts your mission: Laws, regulations, funding Local, state, federal government Target specific public policy changes Just a few strong issues Understand the legislative process Stay informed on legislative action Activate your organization to impact legislative process

19 MEETING WITH YOUR LEGISLATOR Nervous? You know more about the subject Advance appointment important A small delegation is OK – and may be better Discuss issue from your legislator’s perspective

20 MEETING WITH YOUR LEGISLATOR Can’t answer a question? Don’t bluff, but offer to get answer Leave fact sheet Write - say thanks -- remind legislator of agreements reached

21 OTHER COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES Mail Telephone Letter writing

22 OTHER WAYS TO COMMUNICATE Invite legislator to:  Visit your facility  Speak at a meeting sponsored by your group  Meet with your board  Attend breakfast meeting at state capitol

23 LOBBY REGISTRATION & PENALTIES Individuals who fail to register, fail to report spending, or file false or incomplete statement could face a $50 penalty for every day failure to properly register, a fine of up to $2,000 and could be banned from lobbying for up to five years Organizations that intentionally fail to report spending could face up to $25,000 in fines and possible criminal prosecution by the State Attorney General

24 THANK YOU! Joe Geiger, Executive Director Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations


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