Get Started

Get Started

You Can Do It
Lobbying, advocacy and playing an active role in the public policy process are not just for experts!  Your organization can raise public awareness of your cause, build relationships with government and help shape laws and policies that affect its mission by dedicating at least one staff person or volunteer to spend just three hours per week doing public policy work. The following are activities a member of your team can do to make a difference.

Electing to Come Under the 501(h) Test
Congress and the IRS expressed support for charitable lobbying when it enacted the 501(h) expenditure test and related regulations in 1976 and 1990, respectively.  Together, the law and regulations provide generous limits and eased reporting burdens for charities that lobby.  However, currently the law only provides this latitude for charities that elect to be covered by it and is not the default option. The default test, sometimes referred to as the "substantial part" test, prohibits charities from engaging in a substantial amount of lobbying and imposes a vague test with more onerous reporting burdens.

For the vast majority of small to mid-sized 501(c)(3) nonprofits, the first thing you should do is to file the below one-page Form 5768 to elect the 501(h) test - not only because it provides generous limits on how much you can spend on lobbying, but also because it provides a very clear and helpful definition of what activities related to legislation constitute lobbying.  Influential religious institutions lobbied against being covered by the 1976 lobby law, and thus were exempted and can not elect the 501(h) test.

Form 5768 - Take the 501(h) Election

 


"Getting the change you want in public policy will occur most readily when you join with other groups in coalition."

Elizabeth M. Heagy

Find Your State Association