How do you and your organization maintain contact with your elected federal, state, and local government representatives? Their staff can provide invaluable guidance on how to navigate the government funding process and alert you to available grant funding opportunities.
Your government representatives may be able to introduce you to those who work at grant funding organizations or help monitor the progress of your proposal. As we mentioned in Unit 2, these local politicians may write a letter on your behalf, describe the good services your organization provides their constituents, or otherwise support your grant application.
While the U.S. Internal Revenue Services (IRS) prohibits nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations from getting involved in political campaigns, you can "educate" your political representatives about your activities and describe how you help their constituents and contribute to your community.
Read this notice from the IRS which outlines the restrictions on nonprofit organizations' lobbying activities.
In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks the loss of tax-exempt status.
Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in a referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.
An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.
Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.
Source: Internal Revenue Service, https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/lobbying
This work is in the Public Domain.