All nonprofits CAN and SHOULD be involved in advocacy, lobbying, and elections.  Advocacy is the number one way nonprofits are able to advance the issues they care about and help bring systemic, lasting change.  Effective advocacy enables organizations to shape public debate on important issues and ensure that underserved communities have a voice in policies that impact their lives.  CAN has compiled the following information on how to safely and effectively lobby as a nonprofit.  Tanya Witt and Terry Stone are happy to answer additional questions you have.


Advocacy 101

  • Created by Tanya Witt for the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Senior Mobilization Squad, this powerpoint training will take you through basic advocacy and lobby guidelines.

LGBT Community Centers:  An Effective and Powerful Force for Change

  • 93% of LGBT Community Centers engage in public education and advocacy to influence public policy.

Why Should Your Nonprofit Advocate?

  • Through advocacy efforts you can help others while assuring your nonprofit survives and thrives.

Advocacy Groups, Political Organizations Go After The LGBTQ Vote

  • With the midterm elections just two months away, a number of advocacy groups and political organizations are ramping up their efforts to make sure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer voters make it to the polls.

Public Charities Can Lobby:  Guidelines for 501(c)(3) Public Charities

  • Much advocacy work, including efforts to influence executive branch actions, does not constitute lobbying. Yet contrary to popular misconception, 501(c)(3) public charities—including houses of worship and public foundations—can lobby. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service has stated that public charities “may lobby freely” so long as lobbying is within generous specified limits

Election Checklist for 501(c)(3) Public Charities-Ensuring Election Year Advocacy Efforts Remain Nonpartisan

  • Federal tax law explicitly prohibits activity by 501(c)(3) organizations that supports or opposes candidates for public office, but it also recognizes the importance of their participation in the democratic process. The law allows charities to engage in a wide variety of nonpartisan election-related activities, including voter registration and education as well as ballot measure campaigns.

The Powerful, Free, and Easy 501(h) Election

  • Federal tax laws already allow every charitable nonprofit to engage in some legislative lobbying activities. There are spending limits and technicalities that curb nonprofits from spending all of their time and money engaged in legislative lobbying, but knowing your rights ensures your organization’s participation in the public policy process.

Transition Team Advocacy

  • Advocates have an important role to play when a new administration - either a new president or governor - is coming into power.

What Nonprofit Staff Can Do

  • Nonprofit staff often have questions about their personal involvement in political campaigns or work with candidates