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.
Charity fundraising event planners have to worry not only about the invitation list, the menu and the program. They also have to worry about a host of legal issues that, if ignored, could turn the event into a financial and public relations disaster. This webinar will explore the top ten areas of legal concern for a charity’s annual gala dinner dance, bikathon, day in the park, or other special fundraising event. Learn more in our pre-recorded webinar.
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