Legal Do's and Don'ts

Permissible Election Activities 501(c)(3) public charity organizations are strictly forbidden from engaging in any political activity in support of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. The IRS will consider all of the facts and circumstances surrounding an activity to determine whether the activity violates this prohibition. However, 501(c)(3) public charity organizations can engage in nonpartisan voter education activity and in a limited amount of lobbying. 501(c)(3)s MAY:

  1. Engage in limited lobbying, including work on ballot measures
  2. Conduct nonpartisan public education and training sessions about participation in the political process
  3. Educate all of the candidates on public interest issues
  4. Publish legislative scorecards (with certain restrictions)
  5. Prepare candidate questionnaires and create voter guides (with certain restrictions)
  6. Canvass the public on issues
  7. Sponsor candidate debates (with certain restrictions)
  8. Rent at fair market value mailing lists and facilities to other organizations, legislators, and candidates (with certain restrictions)
  9. Conduct nonpartisan get-out-the-vote and voter registration drives
  10. Establish a controlled 501(c)(4) organization
  11. Work with all political parties to get its positions included on the party’s platform (with certain restrictions)

501(c)(3)s MAY NOT:

  1. Endorse candidates for public office
  2. Make any campaign contributions
  3. Make expenditures on behalf of candidates
  4. Restrict rental of their mailing lists and facilities to certain candidates
  5. Ask candidates to sign pledges on any issue (tacit endorsement)
  6. Increase the volume or amount of incumbent criticism as election time approaches
  7. Publish or communicate anything that explicitly or implicitly favors or opposes a candidate


11/07/2017 - 11:46

Louisville, KY — Local education advocates, Jeffersontown High School students and families today will call on the Jefferson County Board of Education to terminate its contract between the Jeffersontown High School and the Jeffersontown Police Department just days after the #AssaultAtJeffersonTown, where school resource officers called the...

09/04/2017 - 20:00

Washington – Today, it was announced that Donald Trump will end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. DACA came to fruition after Dreamers organized and applied pressure on the Obama administration for a measure that would protect them from deportation. Advancement Project’s national office released the following statement:

“Trump has already embraced white...

09/15/2017 - 12:50

WASHINGTON – On September 15, former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of killing Anthony Lamar Smith. Advancement Project, a national racial justice organization, released the following statement in response:

“The killing of #AnthonyLamarSmith is essentially a premeditated execution,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project’...

09/26/2017 - 20:00

Baton Rouge, La. – Today, Advancement Project filed an appeal brief in the Louisiana Court of Appeal asserting the right to vote for Louisiana citizens on probation and parole. The appeal is part of an ongoing appeal of a trial court ruling that allows Louisiana to continue to deny the ballot to tens of thousands of Louisianans.

Advancement Project’s national office, a...

10/09/2017 - 20:00

Advancement Project’s National Office does not stand for the suspension of girls and boys of color for being assertive, sassy, nor outspoken – all issues that could otherwise be approached with restorative and supportive tactics by school administrators. Advancement Project’s National Office equally rejects punitive practices currently facing adults of color in professional environments...

10/17/2017 - 20:00

MIAMI – On October 18, the Power U Center for Social Change, in collaboration with local, state and national civil rights organizations including Advancement Project, hosted a direct action releasing a new report...

08/31/2017 - 20:00

Washington – Yesterday, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to disempower State Attorney Aramis Ayala in order to impede prosecution reform. Advancement Project, a national racial justice organization that filed an amicus brief with other allies (available here), issued the following statement:...