Presentation on theme: "Advocacy and Education by Sue Thau Public Policy Consultant CADCA."— Presentation transcript:
Advocacy and Education by Sue Thau Public Policy Consultant CADCA
What Is Lobbying?
Lobbying is taking a specific position on a specific piece of legislation or ballot initiative.
Should 501(c)3’s Be Afraid To Lobby? NO! But if 501(c)3’s are going to participate in actual lobbying, there are certain guidelines that they need to follow. 4
Remember The Rules 5
If Your Organization is Solely Funded With Federal Dollars, Can You Educate Your Elected Officials and the Public? YES! Education is not considered lobbying. You are permitted to educate elected officials about issues you are facing and how to address them, as long as you are not taking specific positions on specific bills. 6
Examples of Activities That Are NOT Considered Lobbying Under Federal Tax Law 7 Meeting with a legislator to talk about the negative impacts of marijuana use, without mentioning a specific legislative proposal. Participating in a town hall meeting to discuss the negative impacts of marijuana use without mentioning a specific legislative proposal. Providing a legislator or the general public with educational materials about marijuana legislation or ballot initiatives, without calling for specific action on them. Responding to a written request from a legislative committee or subcommittee for information about marijuana legislation.
Examples of Activities That Are NOT Considered Lobbying Under Federal Tax Law Disseminating a newsletter to your own membership providing information about a specific marijuana legislation or initiatives to include your organization’s position on the legislation and the names of legislators who support and oppose the legislation, but not a specific call to action (e.g. a request to call or write to legislators.) 8
If Your Organization Receives A Mixture of Federal and Non-federal Funds, Can You Lobby? Yes! You can use up to 20% of your 501(c)3 organization’s first $500K in tax-exempt expenditures to lobby BUT you cannot use any of your federal funds to lobby. 9
How Much Lobbying Are 501(c)3s Permitted To Do? Allowable Lobbying Expenditures Tax Exempt IncomeAmount that can be spent on lobbying First $500,00020% - $100,000 2 nd $500,00015% - $75,000 3 rd $500,00010% - $50,000 All income over the first $1.5 million 5% - up to a total of $1 million Some coalitions come under the 501’(3) status of a larger organization. In that case, calculations of allowable lobbying expenditures are based on the budget and expenditures of the larger organization. 10
If your 501(c)3 chooses to lobby, it is recommended that it files IRS Form Filing provides liberal limits on how much money can be spent on lobbying and provides very clear definitions of what activities don’t include lobbying. 11
Even If You Participate In A Tiny Bit of Lobbying, You Should File Under the 1976 Act 12
A communication is treated as a grassroots lobbying communication if, but only if, the communication: Refers to specific legislation or specific ballot initiative; Reflects a view on such legislation or initiative; AND Encourages the recipient of the communication to take action with respect to such legislation or initiative.
Grassroots Lobbying for Initiatives: Remember: all three components need to be included for it to be considered grassroots lobbying. Communications to the public that are considered to be grassroots lobbying: Refer to a ballot initiative/proposition; Reflect a view on an initiative/proposition; AND Urge that people vote for or against the 14
The IRS regulations recognize that for initiatives, the public itself is the legislature. 15
–EXAMPLE: If a nonprofit paid newspaper ad refers to a specific marijuana initiative/proposition, reflect a view on the proposal, AND urges readers not only to vote for or against the initiative, but also to ask their neighbors to do likewise, this is considered direct lobbying. The nonprofit must then charge all of this as direct lobbying on its IRS form because it met all three criteria. NOTE: Federal and State funds cannot be used to do this!!! 16
If a nonprofit paid newspaper ad refers to a specific marijuana initiative/proposition, reflect a view on the proposal, BUT does not urge readers to vote for or against the initiative, then this is NOT considered direct lobbying. 17
Raise Unrestricted Funds 18
What Are Unrestricted Funds? 19 Unrestricted funds are non-state, non-federal, non-matching dollars. They are privately raised funds that can be used to lobby and take positions on initiatives/propositions.
Why Are Unrestricted Funds Needed? 20 Because they are the only funds that can be legally used to do direct lobbying or take positions for/against initiatives
If Your Organization Receives Only Federal Funds, Can It Lobby/Directly To Fight Propositions? NO! All lobbying/taking positions on propositions are PROHIBITED uses of federal funds. BUT When you are off duty from your position and are acting as a private citizen, you are allowed to lobby/take positions on propositions. 21
Hold a bake sale Have everyone in your coalition contribute $50 Other?? How Can You Raise Unrestricted Funds? 22
What you can do with unrestricted funds: An organization that has raised unrestricted funds can use that money to: –Publish ads in a magazine encouraging public to vote against a marijuana ballot initiative –Distribute flyers encouraging public to vote against a marijuana ballot initiative –Create a radio ad encouraging public to vote against a marijuana ballot initiative 23
What Can You Do If You Are ONLY Federally Funded? Even if only federally funded, coalitions are free to support or oppose initiatives/propositions. But if you are federally funded, you cannot use any federal or state dollars to do so. You can, however: –do this during non-working hours on your own time; –use funds from non-governmental sources; or –Raise money above and beyond your federal funding to enable you to do direct lobbying. 24
Examples of Activities That Are NOT Considered Lobbying Under Federal Tax Law 25 Conducting public education campaigns e.g. a mass media educational campaign about the negative effects of marijuana use. Advocating for better enforcement of existing laws, e.g. federal law prohibiting marijuana use under the Controlled Substances Act. Advocating the enactment and enforcement of "private or voluntary policies”, e.g. landlords for marijuana dispensaries or retailers. Meeting with regulatory agencies at all levels (e.g. state health departments FDA, etc.) Tracking activities of legislators, including votes, positions taken, contributions accepted, etc.
Advocacy/education can and should be done by everyone! 26
Download a Copy of CADCA’s Strategizer 31 es-advocacy-changing-policies-and-laws- create-safer-environments-youth