Ballot measures allow voters to propose and enact laws. They include ballot initiatives, constitutional amendments, bond measures, and referenda. 501(c)(3) organizations can proactively initiate ballot measures or react to ballot measures proposed by others. They can also support or oppose measures and encourage the public to vote accordingly.

Under federal tax law, ballot measures are considered to be specific pieces of legislation submitted for approval by the voters. That means a charity’s work to support or oppose a ballot measure constitutes a lobbying effort directed at the voters, who will vote to enact or reject the proposed law. This means that 501(h) electors must count efforts to influence voters to approve or oppose a ballot measure as direct lobbying.

NOTE: This activity may be covered and disclosure required under state lobby disclosure or election law provisions.

» Also see our Ballot Measure Toolkit

FILTER THE RESOURCES BY

15 Resources

Preguntas Frecuentes (FAQs) de las Organizaciones Sin Fines de Lucro de los EE.UU.: Involucrando a los Activistas Indocumentados en la Defensa y Promoción de Causas

Muchas organizaciones comunitarias en los Estados Unidos dependen en activistas indocumentados. Inmigrantes indocumentados tienen el derecho constitucional a la libertad de expresión y reunión, y pueden participar en actividades de defensa y promoción de causas de la organización. Aprenda como los inmigrantes indocumentados pueden ayudar legalmente a estas organizaciones, y aprenda algunas precauciones para evitar riesgos innecesarios con consecuencias graves de inmigración. …

FAQs about Nonprofits Engaging in Advocacy with Undocumented Activists

Many nonprofit organizations have leaders who are undocumented immigrants. In general, undocumented immigrants in the United State have a constitutional right to free speech and assembly, and nonprofit organizations have a right to integrate immigrant leaders into their organization’s advocacy. This factsheet answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about nonprofits’ rights to engage undocumented immigrants in issue advocacy, lobbying, ballot measure campaigns, and lawful public protests. The factsheet also identifies legal and practical limitations for nonprofits collaborating with undocumented activists.…

Ballot Measure Activities Exempt from California Disclosure Laws

Nonprofit organizations active in state or local California ballot measure campaigns must comply both with federal tax law and California ballot measure disclosure laws. Federal tax law permits public charities to engage in a limited amount of ballot measure advocacy. Under California law, organizations engaging in certain activities to support or oppose a ballot measure may need to disclose their expenditures in support of or opposition to the ballot measure, as well as the names of donors whose contributions were used to support the organization’s ballot measure activities. However, the following activities are exempt from California’s disclosure laws and can be done by an organization without fear of triggering any special disclosure reports.…

Community Foundations and Ballot Measures

Foundations—both public and private—may support 501(c)(3) public charity grantees that are engaged in ballot measure activity. Unlike private foundations, however, community foundations have a unique opportunity to explicitly support or oppose ballot measures and the coalitions working to do so. This fact sheet explains how.…

Seize the Initiative

Increasingly, citizens groups are using ballot initiatives and referenda to advance their issues. This guide answers questions frequently asked by nonprofit organizations about working on ballot measures. For more information about this publication, please call us at (202) 822-6070.…