Toolkit: National Council of Nonprofits’ Election Activities for 501(c)(3) Charities

Aug 5, 2010

Toolkit: National Council of Nonprofits’ Election Activities for 501(c)(3) Charities

Access the full toolkit, an excellent resource that will empower your organization and help ensure that your activities are within legal boundaries.

A sample of the clear and practical information available in  the toolkit:

501(c)(3) Organizations Can:
Conduct candidate forums/meet the candidate nights with all of the candidates.
Participate in candidate forums/meet the candidate nights. Prepare a few questions you want the
 candidates to answer and send people to ask those questions. This is known as “birddogging.”
Send surveys/questionnaires to each candidate with a list of important questions. Be careful how questions are phrased and include complete responses if answers are published. This activity
may be best suited for organizations that cover a broad range of issues as to avoid creating an
unfair bias against candidates or parties.
Encourage voter registration, including putting a link to a voter registration site on your website, and encourage registered voters to vote.
Send information on issue(s) to all candidates so that they are informed about what the 
organization does.
Support or oppose ballot initiatives. Such effort is considered lobbying.
Prepare voter scorecards that show how each legislative member has voted on key issues. These
 guides help organizations and individuals to recognize who should be thanked and who needs to
be persuaded. Present key facts only and avoid using biased language.
Give staff time off to vote.
Encourage staff to work at the polling places.
When participating in any of the above activities, make sure to include all candidates for a position, regardless of their political affiliation.
501(c)(3) Organizations Cannot:
Show favoritism for one candidate or political party.
Target voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote campaigns, or other efforts at members of a
 particular political party.
Provide support (financial or in-kind) to a political candidate.
Coordinate efforts with a candidate or political party.

The National Council of Nonprofits’ website also has a useful section on nonprofit advocacy with additional resources, including civic engagement tools, toolkits on lobbying tactics and advocacy tactics, and much more.

Image source: from California Participation Project - Voter Participation Training


Tags: Advocacy, Resources, 501 (c)(3)

Sub Categories

ADVOCACY: Be an Advocate
ADVOCACY: Resources & Links
ADVOCACY: Election Center