That doesn’t mean you have to stifle your political opinions. But it does mean being discreet. Conversations about politics, public policy and advocacy have their place, but it’s not with your donors when you are representing your organization. Plus… it’s the law.
Check out this blog post from Kevin Feldman:
Do Not Let Your Politics Ruin Your Fundraising
Development Director at Connections for Abused Women and their Children
Democrat dollars spend as well as Republican dollars. To the orphaned child and mother battling breast cancer, your politics is meaningless. What is important is that you and your organization do all that it can to fulfill its Mission and seek out opportunities to do the things that it promises to do.
Conservatives care as much about the homeless, jobless and hurting as do Liberals. Often the difference lies only in the methodology for aiding and curing society's and the world's ills.
I have been a fan of several fundraising gurus and their blogs. In their moment of weakness, some of them have allowed their politics to show through to the detriment of their own fans – without warning readers to remain professionally and publicly neutral in their politics. It's disappointing to see this from those who should know better.
I will keep my mouth shut when I am engaged in conversations with donors, prospects and other nonprofits when these talks turn to politics. As tempting as it may be to share my opinion, I refrain. When I won't keep quiet is when I feel that the representatives of charitable organizations are putting their organizations at risk by engaging in these discussions in the first place.
No matter what side of the recent Presidential Elections you stood, this is a time to not forget why your organization exists, and to look for the opportunities in the new administration for how you and your organization can better serve your clients and your cause. Be very careful not to let the political leanings of you, your staff and Board to reveal itself in the outstanding work of your nonprofit organization. The IRS could not be more clear on this:
"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”
You can read this in its full context by visiting the IRS's website.
Again, by not following the IRS rules requiring the political neutrality of 501(c)(3) charities, you not only risk losing your organization's nonprofit status with the IRS, you risk losing financial support from private individual donors, businesses and foundations that support you now, and those that may support you in the future.
Published November 13, 2016 on LinkedIn