Updated: Jul 31, 2019
By Alvin Codner:
The IRS prohibits lobbying by private foundations. According to the IRS, 501(c)(3) organizations may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status. Throughout the years, the US Legislature has suggested that all nonprofit organizations that receive federal funds should be prohibited from any lobbying.
In reference to the prohibition of lobbying for nonprofit organizations, I wholeheartedly oppose to such action by the Congress. As a current graduate student in a Nonprofit Management program, I have grown to learn how valuable nonprofit organizations are to, not only America, but the entire world. As most should know, when the government fails to provide resources for those in need and or when natural disasters occur, nonprofits are the ones who come in and do majority to all the demanding work for little to nothing I return. With that being said, nonprofits should have more than enough rights to lobby as anyone else in the U.S who is allowed to lobby.
The IRS states, the only way non-profit organizations are allowed to get involved with issues of public policies is if they conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner but cannot advocate the adoption or rejection of legislation. In my opinion, the IRS is basically trying to say, nonprofit organizations are not allowed to say anything negative or any flaws about the public policies at hand and if they do so, while educating the public on how to fix the issues, they will lose their tax-exemption status. What the government lacks to take into consideration, is the struggle nonprofits have to go through to be successful and the legislation has the power to make it a lot easier for the nonprofit sector but chose not to for some odd reason.
Let’s say this action comes to reality and Congress prohibits all nonprofit organizations from lobbying. How would government officials know about the issues and challenges nonprofit organizations are having? Lobbying and advocating is extremely important for nonprofit organizations because it’s not like the government has the nonprofit sector on the top of their priority list. Even though government officials are busy addressing other public issues, there are some senators and county commissioners who are willing to help out but if nonprofit organizations can’t lobby, then those government officials won’t know how to help.
According to Canser Consulting, there are a limited number of projects and issues that can be funded or legislated and non-profit organizations need be able to compete to be heard above the noise. The “noise” that the Canser Consulting group is speaking about is the private sector. Individuals and corporations from the private sector are free to contact government officials and do all the advocating and lobbying as much as they want to and when they please to do with free will. With that being said, and to conclude, the nonprofit sector should have the same regulations to lobbying as the private sector does because as I stated earlier, when the government fails, nonprofits succeed. Congress should acknowledge that notion, take in consideration that the nonprofit sector has a voice that needs to be heard, and if they prohibit all nonprofits from lobbying then they take that voice away from the nonprofit sector.
Benefits to using lobbyist. (n.d). Retrieved from http://canslerconsulting.com/news/lobbyist-benefits/
IRS website. (n.d.). https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/exemption-requirements-section-501-c-3-organizations