Skip to content

Advocating as a 501c3

April 25, 2018

Pages from IRS rules-staying exempt

Attendees of the “How to Tell the Right People about Your Important Work” session of the 2018 Oregon Heritage Conference learned tools for building advocacy into their daily work tasks and considered ideas for how to access and engage their local, state and federal officials. It was impressive to see that many organizations are already engaging with their officials through activities such as inviting local officials to their events, sending hand written notes of thanks to their legislators, and even sitting down for coffee with them.

An important question was posed during that conference session: Legally, how much is a 501c3 organization allowed to advocate? What is permitted and what is prohibited? 

The full answer to this question can be found in the IRS rules-staying exempt. Christine Drazan, executive director of the Cultural Advocacy Coalition, shared this more general response.

In broad terms:

501c3 Organizations Can:

  • Educate elected officials on issues of concern to the arts, culture, and heritage community.
  • Arrange meetings with legislators to learn their views on these issues.
  • Invite them to organizational meetings and events and send them literature on issues.

501c3 Organizations Cannot:

  • Endorse or oppose candidates for public office.
  • Collect or distribute funds for political campaigns.
  • Use your facilities for political fundraising (although you can rent out your facility to candidates at the market rate).
  • Engage in legislative activities past a “certain limit” (the IRS has a lobbying limit for organizations—see attachment for details).

More information about cultural advocacy can be found through the Cultural Advocacy Coalition, a 501(c)4 non-partisan advocacy group formed to lobby policymakers in Salem to ensure that all Oregonians have the opportunity to access arts and culture in their communities.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: