Conducting Lobbying & Legislative Activities

Did you know nonprofit organizations can use lobbying to advance their causes in federal, state, and local legislatures? This webinar covers the basic guidelines for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charities who wish to conduct some lobbying/legislative activity. Jones does not discuss legislative tactics or strategy, but rather focuses on the rules that organizations who do wish to lobby must follow to stay on the right side of the law.

  • Can my organization lobby? How much?
  • What do I have to do if my organization wants to engage in lobbying activity?
  • What can I do if my city council is considering passing a harmful breed-discriminating ordinance and I want to weigh in?
  • I have a friendly state assemblyperson who wants to know how he or she can help my community save more animal lives. How do I respond?

Top Tips from this Webinar

What exactly is lobbying, anyway?
Lobbying is an attempt to influence legislation.

Be specific
When communicating with members of legislative bodies (i.e., Congress, City Council) don't just make a broad statement like, "Animal welfare issues are important to this community." Instead, state your point of view on specific existing or proposed legislation.

Write it down to do it right
Some think 501(c)(3) corporations aren't allowed to lobby; this isn't true. You can, but you must track and report all lobbying activity.

STAY OUT of politics
"501(c)(3) are absolutely prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign," says Jones. As an organization, you may not endorse a candidate. Make sure your staff uses personal computers and email accounts for their own political activity, independent from your agency.