Managing partner Lucy Prashker explored the legal boundaries of advocacy by 501(c)(3) organizations with leaders of the nonprofit Berkshire County community at a gathering on February 27, 2017 in South County. The presentation, organized by Beryl Jolly, executive director of the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Inc., was the kick-off event for a planned series of meetings of nonprofit leaders about how best to advance their respective missions in the current political environment.
Nonprofit board members often operate under the misconception that charities are not permitted to engage in issue advocacy. In fact, issue advocacy is permissible, even on issues that divide candidates in an election for public office, provided that issue advocacy does not “functionally” serve as political campaign intervention.
Prashker’s presentation was followed by a lively give-and-take among the nonprofit leaders about specific advocacy challenges local charities are facing. Taking a stand on a politically-charged issue can adversely affect development efforts — but so too can not taking a stand on that issue. Most agreed mission should be paramount in determining action and that board education and participation is important. Follow-up gatherings of nonprofit leaders on this topic are planned. Should you like to learn more about the legal boundaries for 501(c)(3) entities engaged in issue advocacy, please contact Lucy Prashker at [email protected].