Election Dos and Donts for 501(c)(3) Nonprofits

Mon, 03/04/2013 - 9:45am

Photo: bullhornNonprofit arts organizations can and should participate in local election processes to the full extent allowable by IRS regulation. However, Arts for LA encourages all nonprofits to be knowledgeable about what is and isn't allowed.

  • DO encourage nonpartisan voter turnout. When everyone votes, we all win.
  • DON'T use your 501(c)(3) to tell your staff or audiences which candidate they should elect.
  • DO promote and participate in candidate forums. Encourage dialogue about arts & culture.
  • DON'T endorse any specific candidate(s) in any race at any time. Endorsement could include any communication from your organization promoting one candidate's position or lending your logo to a candidate's campaign.
  • DO publicize election dates and links to the city and county clerks, where voters can learn more.
  • DON'T use your organization's resources to financially support a candidate's campaign under any circumstances.

This spring's races are important and many candidates face tough battles to win elections. You may feel a specific candidate will provide the best opportunities for arts and culture, but it's essential your organization remain impartial and does not attempt to sway public opinion.

If you have further questions or seek clarification on these issues, please refer to this extensive section on nonprofit advocacy from Alliance for Justice.