FAQs - Political Activities
May a 501(c)(3) organizations make a contribution to a candidate for office, a political party or a political action committee?
No. Organizations that are exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3)of the Internal Revenue Code are absolutely prohibited from contributing to a candidate for office, a political party or a political action committee. An organization that violates this prohibition risks losing its tax exemption and may also be in violation of state law. Detailed information concerning the prohibition is posted by the Internal Revenue Service at Tax-Exempt-Organizations-Prohibition-From-Contributions . Click here for the Attorney General's tutorial on the prohibition against political activities.
What kinds of political contributions are prohibited?
Prohibited political contributions include:
- Making a monetary contribution to a political candidate, party or action committee.
- Purchasing tickets to a fundraising event sponsored by a political candidate, party or action committee.
- Paying for ads that support or honor a political candidate.
- Donating non-monetary items to a political candidate, party or action committee.
- Donating the use of an organization's services, premises, cars or equipment to a political candidate, party or action committee.
- Allowing employees to volunteer for a political candidate, party or action committee during their working hours. They may, however, volunteer on their own time.
- Reimbursing an officer, director, employee, agent, volunteer or other individual or entity for any political contribution.
How can a 501(c)(3) avoid violating the prohibition against political contributions?
An organization should adopt a policy and procedures to make sure that it does not make any political contributions and make sure that its staff understands the prohibition and follows the procedures.
What other kinds of political activity are prohibited?
Organizations that are exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are also absolutely prohibited from engaging in political activity that directly or indirectly supports a political party, political action committee or a candidate for office. That prohibition includes supporting a particular candidate or party in an election, urging others to support such candidate or party and hosting an event at which only some candidates for a particular office are offered an opportunity to speak.
May a 501(c)(3) organizations participate in get out the vote programs or other education programs?
501(c)(3) organizations may participate in non-partisan voter education programs as long as those programs are consistent with the organization's charitable purposes. For example, a 501(c)(3) organizations may host a Meet the Candidates program as long as all candidates for a particular office are given the opportunity to participate.