At Ujoin.co we work with a lot of 501c3 nonprofit organizations, and, well, I wish I had a dime for every time I hear someone tell me they’re not allowed to lobby or advocate.
The big takeaway is that for the most part, organizations and likely most legal advisors take a far too cautious approach.* You are, in fact, allowed to lobby.
What is “Lobbying”?
I’m going to attempt to clear this up as simply as I can. First, definitions:
Am I Allowed to Lobby?
Obviously, the short answer is “yes”. If your organization’s annual expenditures are below $500k per year, then you can spend up to 20% of your budget on lobbying. If your annual expenditures are over $1M, consult your lawyer, but know that you are allowed significant expenditures on lobbying, and you should choose a lawyer who understands this fact.
If your annual budget is between $500k per year and $1M per year you’re allowed to spend 15% of your budget plus another $100k. You can reference the chart below for exact rules on this.
Of your allowable budget for lobbying, 25% of that can be allocated for grassroots lobbying. So, if your budget is $100k per year, $20k can be used for lobbying, and $5k can be used for grassroots lobbying. (Side note! Ujoin.co, by the way, offers up the best pricing in our market when it comes to online advocacy tools.)