With certain restrictions, nonprofit organizations can – and should – be engaged in the political and electoral process; however, don’t let a few limitations prevent your organization from taking allowable actions. Your organization is part of the community (national, state, and/or local) – including your community’s politics and elections. Be engaged members of your community!
The Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy initiative is a great resource for what organizations can and cannot do with regard to electoral and lobbying activities. Their summary election check list includes the permissible activities of publishing legislative scorecards, creating candidate questionnaires and voter guides, and sponsoring candidate forums. If after reviewing their materials you still have a question, you can use their “Ask an Expert” resource and get prompt and personalized service for free.
Invite elected officials and candidates to speak to your group — during the election cycle, you must give all candidates the opportunity to speak to your group and have them speak at the same event — this will build visibility for our community, create relationships, and inform elected officials and candidates about the issues of concern to our community.
Get to know the elected officials who identify with our community at the Center for Freethought Equality’s List of Secular Elected Officials.
If you need a second opinion to convince your board or staff on the appropriate course of action go straight to the ultimate source – the IRS – for their materials on election year activities and lobbying. For further clarification on nonprofits and election law, please refer to the IRS's FAQ on the subject or watch this brief presentation on the rules.