Bolder Advocacy

Legal Tips to Help You Tweet With Confidence

Credit: eldh on Flickr

Credit: eldh on Flickr

Social media has transformed nonprofit advocacy. The dynamic new forms of digital communication are a boon for groups with limited resources trying to promote their cause. While we are becoming more familiar with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social media platforms, the law guiding our use of these tools is not always so clear. In the rapid-fire world of digital media, questions frequently surface about what activity is allowable:

  • When will tweets count as lobbying?
  • May we “friend” a politician on Facebook?
  • Are we responsible for partisan comments on blogs or Facebook posts?

To demystify the legal guidelines around social media, AFJ’s Bolder Advocacy initiative has released two new fact sheets for public charities and private foundations. As AFJ President Nan Aron said in the foreword to our guide on public policy in the digital age, we should not allow the complexity of the rules to discourage our use of online advocacy:

Our hope is not merely to ensure that nonprofit advocates stay within the law, but to demonstrate that robust participation in our nation’s democratic process is not just possible, but actually enhanced by new technologies.

Our view with electronic advocacy is the same as it is for more traditional forms: the more nonprofits know and understand the rules, the more confident they will be in taking full advantage of their right to be actively and meaningfully engaged in virtually every aspect of our nation’s policy and political processes.

For Public Charities: Tips on Using Social Media for Advocacy

This fact sheet offers tips on how charities can legally use social media for advocacy, when social media needs to be counted as lobbying, and how to ensure partisan content does not get attributed to the organization.

For Private Foundations: Private Foundations and Social Media

This fact sheet is designed to give private foundations a framework to engage audiences and accomplish their missions using social media, now and in the future.

Related Resources: Twitter 101: How to Influence the Conversation from