Election Year Considerations for Associations

Posted By: Robert Burgee, Esq. Blog,

📖This article originally appeared in the Spring edition of Impact magazine

As another election season approaches and the candidates and issues begin to come into focus, now is a good time to review the regulations that govern exempt organizations and their involvement in politics. While each of the entities discussed here are created by meeting the requirements provided in Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), each has different restrictions on its election- time activities.

What activities are allowed?
For the purpose of this question, it is important to distinguish between supporting/opposing a candidate (politics) and supporting/opposing an issue or policy (lobbying).

For C3’s the first part is simple – they are absolutely prohibited from donating to, advocating for (or against), or conducting activities biased toward any particular candidate(s). However, C3’s may lobby for/against certain policies either in the course of elections or through educating policymakers. C3’s must be mindful of the fact that lobbying cannot make up a substantial part of their activities.