Advocacy and Lobbying for 501 (C) (3) Organizations – Understand the Rules
Many OHV clubs and associations are 501 (C) (3) not-for-profit organizations as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This designation comes with all sorts of advantages including eligibility for many grant programs, but these advantages come with some limitations particularly when it comes to lobbying. Lobbying is an important component to effective advocacy in support of creating a positive future for OHV recreation, so it is important to know exactly what the IRS allows when it comes to lobbying on behalf of our sport and your club.
Most of the information you need can be found on the IRS website here.
First, it is important to know how the IRS defines lobbying which generally means influencing legislation. From the website above: “An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.” A crucial note is this applies to all legislative bodies, not just the U.S. Congress – “Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure.”