While an organization can not intervene on behalf of a political campaign, it may undertake certain types of nonpartisan political activities. Yet even in these situations, organizations still need to tread lightly or risk the wrath of the IRS.
In her book “Good Counsel,” Lesley Rosenthal lists some permissible political events for nonprofit organizations:
- Voter Education and Voter Registration Drives: These are a-OK for nonprofits as long as there are no biased references to individual candidates or political parties. Timing is also an important factor for the permissibility of these events. For example, distributing newsletters on a candidate’s voting record on issues important to the nonprofit would probably constitute intervention during an election year.
- Speeches by Candidates: An organization may invite a political candidate to speak at an event, but only if opposing candidates for the same office are given equal time. The event must not advocate for a certain position.
- Facility Rental: A nonprofit that has space for public gatherings may rent space to a candidate looking to make a space, so long as the organization charges the campaign its customary fees and makes the space available to opposing candidates. In addition, the space must be regularly offered by the organization and not specifically for the candidate.