Can a 501(c)(3) organization provide information in its newsletter or on its website about openings on local elected boards and information about running in local elections without fear of losing its 501(c)(3) status?
Ordinarily, a charitable organization can provide information to the public about political openings and political campaigns without losing its exempt status so long as the information is nonpartisan. The Tax Court held in 1989 that the American Campaign Academy, a school for Republican candidates that taught courses on how to beat Democrats, provided substantial private benefit to the Republican Party and could not be exempt as a charity.
Revenue Service has taken the position that a charity can
be deemed to participate in an election campaign, which can
cause loss of exemption, merely by the kinds of questions
it asks candidates, or by the selective dissemination of their
Ready Reference Page: “Charities May Not Participate
in Elections.”) So if you undertake this kind of
activity, be absolutely sure that the information, or the
context in which it is provided, cannot be considered partisan.
Planned giving sounds complicated, with its CRUTs and CRATs, CLUTs and CLATS, and CGAs. It can be incredibly complicated, but it needn’t be. Keeping it simple may be the best way to start a planned giving program for a charity that hasn’t already put one in place.
This webinar offered a review of major planned giving instruments and a discussion of ones that make the most sense to emphasize in starting a planned giving program. It discussed the advantages of integrating planned giving into an existing development program, targeting the best prospects, getting buy-in from the board that is likely to generate results, and setting a structure to make it all happen.
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