Know the Rules

“We’re a 501(c)3, we can’t advocate!”

Not so!

But whether your group is registered as a 501(c)3 or a 501(c)4 does makes a difference in how you advocate for your children and your schools.  For example, a 501(c)3 can’t endorse a candidate or a particular piece of legislation, but can ask questions about legislation and share information about its local impacts.

Explore these online resources to learn more about what you can and cannot do, and how you can accomplish your objectives.

The Alliance for Justice Nonprofit Advocacy Project is the “go to” place for information about the laws that govern nonprofit participation in the policy process.

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits also provide up-to-date information on Nonprofit Advocacy (MANY parent groups are nonprofits!)

“Nonprofit organizations can and should lobby. It isn’t difficult. It isn’t mysterious. It isn’t expensive. And it is a proper role for nonprofits.”
—Marcia Avner, retired public policy director, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Additional Resources

Charity Lobbying in the Public Interest – Educates charities about the important role lobbying can play in achieving their mission.

Election Year Advocacy: Candidate Forums – Under federal tax law, 501(c)(3) organizations may host candidate appearances, Alliance for Justice, March 2007.

National PTA Online Advocacy Toolkit – Helping child advocates speak up for the health and well-being of all children.

Nonprofits, Voting, and Elections – A guide for 501(c)3 organizations on how to conduct election-related activities, Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, March 2008 (Updated ).