Rules of the Road

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Rules of the Road

  1. 1. ADVOCACY Loren Anthes
  2. 2. DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA Alexis de Tocqueville “Citizens who are individually powerless do not very clearly anticipate the strength that they may acquire by uniting together; it must be shown to them in order to be understood. Hence it is often easier to collect a multitude for a public purpose than a few persons; a thousand citizens do not see what interest they have in combining together; ten thousand will be perfectly aware of it.”
  3. 3. Legislative Process
  4. 4. Advocacy v. Lobbying Advocacy •“[T}he act of arguing in favor of something [or supporting something], such as a cause, idea, or policy [and] the practice of supporting someone to make their voice heard.” (American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.) •Advocacy is the process of people participating in decision-making that affects their lives and the lives of others at the local, state and national level. Advocacy can also mean helping policymakers find specific administrative or legislative solutions to persistent and seemingly intractable problems.
  5. 5. Advocacy v. Lobbying Lobbying •“[L]obbying is any attempt to influence specific legislation by stating a position on specific legislation to legislators or other government employees who participate in the formulation of legislation; or urging your members or the general public to contact their legislators with a position on specific legislation.” •In Ohio, a professional lobbyist is someone who is paid to advocate on behalf of, or represent the interests of, another person or entity before the Ohio General Assembly, the Executive Branch and state agencies, or any one of Ohio’s five public retirement systems.
  6. 6. Rules for 501(c)(3) Lobbying •Federal laws actually exist to encourage charities to lobby within certain specified limits. •Knowing what constitutes lobbying under the law, and what the limits are, is the key to being able to lobby legally and safely. •The laws have some detail, so consult your attorney or accountant for professional advice.
  7. 7. Substantial Part Test •The IRS evaluates the "substantial part" test on the basis of the facts and circumstances, such as the time (by both paid and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted to lobbying by the organization. •Because this test can be applied rather arbitrarily, it is often advisable for a charity to file a short form with the IRS in order to be governed by the "expenditure test," which is based solely on the amount of money spent for lobbying.
  8. 8. Expenditure Test – 501(h) Election •The expenditure test lays out specific limits on how much money a charity can spend for lobbying, based on the charity's own "exempt purpose" expenditures:
  9. 9. Expenditure Test – 501(h) Election •Organizations electing to use the expenditure test must file Form 5768 at any time during the tax year for which it is to be effective. •The election remains in effect for succeeding years unless it is revoked by the organization. •Revocation of the election is effective beginning with the year following the year in which the revocation is filed.
  10. 10. Form 990 •Form 990 requires all nonprofits to report their “total expenses paid or incurred in connection with … lobbying activities.” •But nonprofits that made an election get to complete Schedule C’s less detailed Part II-A, which allows them to simply report their lobbying expenditures in two broad categories: direct lobbying and grass roots lobbying. •Non-electing nonprofits, on the other hand, must complete the more detailed Schedule C, Part II-B.
  11. 11. What is Direct v. Grassroots Lobbying? • Direct lobbying -- In general, any attempt to influence any legislation through communication with a legislator, an employee of a legislative body or other government official, which: • (1) refers to specific legislation; and • (2) reflects a view on such legislation. • A grassroots lobbying communication is one which: • (1) refers to specific legislation; • (2) reflects a view on that legislation; and • (3) encourages the recipient to take action with respect to the legislation, either by • (a) directly urging the recipient to contact legislators or other government officials in order to influence legislation; • (b) including the address, phone number or similar information about a legislator or government official; • (c) providing a petition, postcard or other prepared message to send to a legislator or government official in order to influence legislation; or • (d) identifying one or more legislators who will vote on the legislation as opposing the organization's view; being undecided; being the recipient's representative in the legislature; or being a member of the legislative committee that will consider the legislation. Encouraging the recipient to take action does not include naming the main sponsor(s) for the purposes of identifying the legislation.
  12. 12. How do I know if I “Lobby”? •Key elements of lobbying activity that triggers registration with the Ohio Legislative Inspector General: •Compensation – you must receive something of value in exchange for your efforts; •Direct Communication – may be either written or oral and can occur in any medium; •Amount of time for which you are paid that is spent lobbying
  13. 13. How do I know the difference? •“Lobbying” does not include the following activities: • providing technical assistance or advice to legislative body or committee in response to a written request; • making available nonpartisan analysis, study or research; providing examinations and discussions of broad, social, economic and similar problems; • communicating with a legislative body regarding matters which might affect the existence of the organization, its powers and duties, its tax-exempt status, or the deduction of contributions to the organization (the "self-defense" exception); • and, updating the members of your own organization on the status of legislation, without a call to action.
  14. 14. Prohibited Activities •Charities are expressly prohibited from •intervening in a political campaign of any candidate for public office, and •from engaging in partisan activity of any kind. •Charities may not use government funds, such as government grants or contracts, to lobby, including the use of federal funds to lobby for federal grants or contracts.
  15. 15. Foundations • IRS lobbying regulations also allow private foundations, without penalty, to make general support grants to publicly supported charities that do some lobbying, provided the grant is not earmarked for lobbying purposes. • A private foundation may also make special purpose grants for projects that involve lobbying as long as the grant is not earmarked for lobbying purposes, and the grant does not exceed the non- lobbying amount of the project budget. • IRS regulations also provide protection for foundations that make grants in accordance with IRS guidelines to charities that later lose their tax exemption because of excess lobbying.
  16. 16. Advocacy Tactics • Working in Coalitions • Often, one of the most powerful ways for nonprofits to engage in the public policy process is by working in coalition. Effective coalitions can amplify voices to legislators and the public, as well as allow coalition members to share the cost of their advocacy efforts. • Know the Legislative Process & Players • 1) A bill is introduced in at least one chamber of the legislature. • 2) It is then assigned to the committee(s) that oversees the issue addressed by the bill. • 3) Sometimes, a committee refers a bill to a subcommittee for deeper consideration.
  17. 17. Calls to Action Newsletters Money Data Other useful links Example
  18. 18. More Information on Legislation
  19. 19. Resources •Independent Sector •National Council of Non-Profits •Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest •JLEC Ohio •IRS
  20. 20. Questions?

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