Nonprofits + Elections
Nonpartisan does not mean nonparticipation!
Many nonprofits mistakenly believe they can’t get involved in elections at all. 501(c)(3) nonprofits are banned from endorsing candidates, but there are numerous ways nonprofits can–and should–promote voter and civic engagement as part of their charitable and educational mission during the election season.
Election Law Basics for Nonprofits
- Free Webinar Recording from Nonprofit Vote: Staying Nonpartisan During Voter Engagement Activity (2022)
- We have compiled checklists and resources to help 501(c)(3) nonprofits ensure their election year advocacy and get out the vote efforts remain nonpartisan.
- 501(c)(3) nonprofits can use this sample to develop an election year memo or employee handbook policy to remind their staff and volunteers that certain election activities on behalf of the organization, or using the resources of the 501(c)(3), are prohibited.
- 501(c)(4) organizations can participate in political (or campaign intervention) activities under federal tax law. Find election year guidance for 501(c)4 organizations here.
- More questions? Bolder Advocacy has answers to just about every nonprofit advocacy question you can think of!
Get Out the Vote – GOTV!
Our democracy–and the nonprofit sector–depend on good government and fair and open elections. When candidates are elected by a minority of eligible voters, they may not represent or understand the issues nonprofits care about.
Nonprofits are particularly well suited to encourage voter participation among their staff, volunteers and constituents. Not only do nonprofits reach populations that are less likely to vote, but they are effective in increasing turnout among these groups—reducing disparities in who votes based on age, income, and race/ethnicity.
- Visit NonprofitVote.org and sign up for their newsletter for tons of resources and advice on encouraging voter participation.
Get Candidates (and the Media) Talking About Nonprofits
Nonprofit businesses employ 1 in 6 Maine workers representing a workforce of over 100,000 and channel the energy of about 400,000 volunteers annually. This is a voting block that candidates will want to reach.
- Understand the rules of commenting on candidates and campaigns.
- Use MANP's free Frames That Work toolkit to educate your audience about your impact.
- Members can watch a recording of our session “Share Your Story: Advocacy Through Earned Media” in our webinar library!
MANP’s goal is to educate nonprofits and legal and effective advocacy and election season activity, to educate candidates about the impact and potential of the nonprofit sector, and to educate voters by soliciting information directly from candidates on how they would strengthen and partner with the sector if elected. MANP does not endorse candidates or promote or endorse any political party. All activities are designed to comply with the IRS guidelines for acceptable political activity of a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization.