Influencing officials in the executive branch of federal, state or local government is a powerful tool. Executive or Administrative Advocacy can take several forms, including:

  • Commenting on regulations;
  • Requesting enforcement of existing laws;
  • Advocating for or against executive orders; and
  • Trying to influence administrative decisions on policy and program implementation.

Executive or Administrative Advocacy can be directed at administrative agencies (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency), executive officials (e.g., Governor, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, County Executive), and special purpose boards (e.g., housing authority, school board, park and planning board).

Under federal tax law, nonprofits and foundations can do as much advocacy on regulations and other administrative actions as they’d like. As long as the purpose of these communications is not to influence legislation, the activity is not considered lobbying.

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

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22 Resources

Can We Really Say That?

Most 501(c)(3) organizations are familiar with the restrictions that prohibit 501(c)(3)s from supporting or opposing any candidate for public office. Once an election is over, however, many public charities are unsure about which rules apply. Can they congratulate a winning candidate? Ask the winner to take action on their charity’s main priorities? The answers are ―”Yes” and “Yes” – within limits.…

Transition Team Advocacy

Advocates have an important role to play when a new administration—either a new president or governor— is coming into power. Advocates will find that some of the activities discussed below will also be appropriate actions to take with newly elected legislators as well. The transition period (the time between election and inauguration days) is an important window of time when organizations, including 501(c)(3) charities, can build relationships and work to have their concerns made a priority of the new administration. There are many activities, including ones that do not constitute lobbying, that organizations can engage in to influence the policies and direction of a new administration.…

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. …

Understanding City of Los Angeles Lobbying Disclosure Rules

Do you or your nonprofit organization advocate in the City of Los Angeles? If so, you may be required to register as a lobbyist and report your activities to the City if your activities qualify as lobbying under the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance (LAMLO). …

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.…

California Lobbying Disclosure Thresholds: When an Organization Needs to File

Is your organization active in California legislative or administrative policy change? California has a sunshine law designed to reveal who has influence on California politics, and that sunshine law may apply to your organization. An organization is required to register and report its California lobbying activities if it exceeds specific monetary thresholds, or if an employee(s) of an organization spends enough time communicating with certain state officials. Just because an organization engages in lobbying at the state level in California does not necessarily mean it will have reporting obligations under state law. This factsheet will help you understand if your organization should report as a $5,000 Filer, a Lobbyist Employer, or neither. …

Understanding California Lobbying Disclosure Rules

In addition to complying with the federal tax rules governing lobbying, nonprofits working in California need to keep state lobbying requirements in mind. California has a sunshine law designed to reveal who has influence on California politics, and that sunshine law may apply to your organization. An organization is required to register and report its California lobbying activities if it exceeds specific monetary thresholds, or if an employee(s) of an organization spends enough time communicating with certain state officials. This factsheet will help you understand more about the California Political Reform Act (CPRA) and these rules differ from federal tax rules and certain local sunshine laws. …

Private Foundations and Social Media

Social media presents great advocacy opportunities for private foundations. This fact sheet offers tips on how private foundations can use social media platforms like Twitter, Pintrest, Facebook, and Tumblr for advocacy, when social media communications cross the line into lobbying, how to ensure partisan content does not get attributed to the foundation, and how the foundation should approach making grants for social media campaigns. …

Transition of Power: Influencing a Presidential or Gubernatorial Transition Team

Whenever a new President or Governor is elected, nonprofit organizations, including 501(c)(3) public charities, wonder how they can be involved in nominating cabinet-level, judicial and executive branch nominees, including those that require legislative confirmation. This fact sheet addresses when influencing a president’s or governor’s  transition team may be considered lobbying under the IRS rules, as well as the federal……

Understanding the Lobbying Disclosure Act

Charities, foundations, unions, and 501(c)(4)s that influence federal legislation, regulations, nominations, contracts and permits need to be aware of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), a federal law that imposes registration and reporting obligations on individuals and entities that lobby various federal officials once certain thresholds have been exceeded. This fact sheet provides an overview of……

Lobbying Disclosure Act Thresholds

At the federal level, the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) imposes registration and reporting obligations on individuals and entities that lobby various federal officials once certain thresholds have been exceeded. This fact sheet provides an overview of the LDA registration thresholds applicable to charities, foundations, 501(c)(4), union and for-profit organizations. The thresholds under the LDA do not limit your organization’s lobbying, but rather impose certain disclosure and reporting obligations. This fact sheet will be useful for nonprofits that influence federal legislation, regulations, nominations, contracts, permits, and other governmental decisions.…

Nonprofits Can Influence the Budget Process

With budget cuts at the state and federal level showing no signs of slowing, it is vital that nonprofits speak up on behalf of their constituents and communities. This fact sheet offers tips on how your nonprofit can get involved in budget advocacy, and explains whether the organization would need to track each activity as……

State Lobbying Registration Thresholds

Nonprofits that lobby must comply with two distinct sets of laws: Federal tax law setting the amount an organization can lobby, and state, federal and in some cases local laws that impose certain reporting and disclosure obligations. This fact sheet explains when a nonprofit (or its employees) must register as a lobbyist under state lobbying……

Administrative Advocacy: Influencing Rules, Regulations, and Executive Orders

Not all efforts to influence public policy meet the definition of lobbying, so 501(c)(3) organizations can play a significant advocacy role while still staying within their annual lobbying limits. This fact sheet outlines the types of decisions that are designed to influence federal, state and local agency rules (including school boards), executive orders, and regulations.…

Private Foundations May Advocate

While private foundations incur a prohibitive tax when they engage in or fund lobbying, they may still engage in a variety of advocacy activities.…

Keeping Track: A Guide to Recordkeeping for Advocacy Charities

This publication is designed to help public charities comply with federal tax law by tracking their lobbying activities. The guide includes sample forms, and describes multiple options for tracking staff time, overhead expenses, and direct costs.…

Standing Up for Your Community: Influencing the Redistricting Process

The redistricting process presents an excellent opportunity for your nonprofit organization to get involved to ensure your community is not unfairly divided by district boundaries. To understand the classification of particular redistricting-based activities, read our new fact sheet.…

Investing in Change: A Funder’s Guide to Supporting Advocacy

This book is an indispensable guide for foundations in explaining the various roles they can play in the advocacy process. Investing in Change can serve as an in-depth guide to navigating the tax code surrounding support of public charities, or a quick reference guide to answer a specific question.…