There are common misconceptions when it comes to lobbying activities carried out by 501(c)(3) organizations.
Although the lack of clarity and seemingly complex regulations and reporting requirements relating to public charity lobbying and advocacy efforts causes some nonprofits to avoid lobbying altogether, federal tax laws allow all public charities to engage in some legislative lobbying activities, but strictly prohibit political activity engagement.
Notably, considering the role of public charities in bridging the gap between government and private sectors, a lack of nonprofit advocacy efforts could result in a diminished voice from those disadvantaged segments of the population that charities exist to serve.
Tovella Dowling assists clients in navigating the laws and regulations associated with lobbying and advocacy efforts of public charities.
In some instances, our attorneys assist in evaluating the permissibility of intended lobbying and advocacy activities and strategy under both the “Substantiality Test” and “Expenditure Test”, assist with the client’s reporting obligations related to lobbying efforts carried out, opining on mitigating risk and exposure to excess lobbying activities or attribution of affiliated third party organization lobbying efforts, and formulating fact-specific recommendations relating to 501(h) Elections and structure of lobbying efforts and advocacy programs.
In instances where the client’s lobbying efforts begin approaching the substantiality threshold, our attorneys assist in structuring tandem affiliates through the formation and exemption of related 501(c)(3) social advocacy organizations including the governance and coordinated operational considerations associated with such structure.
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