Nonprofit organizations often wish to comment on important issues of the day, and often those are political
For example, tax reform, the environment, education, and rewriting the State Constitution are hot topics in Alabama. If a nonprofit organization wants to make its views known on these and similar topics, it must be concerned about complying with state and federal laws regulating campaigning and campaign finance. You may think that you are not engaged in “politics,” but your nonprofit organization may inadvertently trip over provisions of some of these laws: For instance, a 501(c)(4) organization is forbidden from using TV or radio for ads that even mention a congressional candidate during the 60 days before a general election or 30 days before a primary.
- the Federal Election Campaign Act
- the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act [this link is to the Alabama Secretary of State’s summary of the Act]
- Alabama laws on political advertising (state campaigns) [this link is to the Alabama Secretary of State’s summary of the Act]
- Alabama laws restricting corporate contributions to state candidates and political committees
- federal and state tax laws
During my law practice in Alabama and Washington, DC, I advised candidates, nonprofits, and others about
the meaning of these and similar laws..
Nonprofits interested in public issues should review the Independent Sector website and its ”Ten Reasons to Lobby for Your Cause.” The Nonprofit Resource Center of Alabama is also an excellent resource for nonprofit groups.
If your nonprofit is speaking out on public issues that are or may be considered by Congress, the
Legislature, or local governments, please call my office to set up a consultation.
Edward StillSuite 2012112 11th Avenue South
Birmingham AL 35205-2844phone 205-320-2882fax 877-264-5513 (toll free)