Not for Profit Do’s and Don’ts in an Election Year

501(c)(3) Organizations must follow specific guidelines set forth by the IRS during election years. Understanding the basic principles of staying non-partisan during election years should give you confidence while assisting residents and staff to exercise their right to vote. Maintaining a non-partisan position as a not for profit organization means your organization cannot:

  • Endorse a candidate
  • Rate candidates according to their positions on issues concerning your organization
  • Provide any candidate access to your organization’s resources that is not granted to ALL candidates equally
  • Contribute money to a candidate’s campaign

As an individual working or living at a 501(c)(3), you do not forfeit your right to engage in the electoral process, you must however, engage in the process on your own time, and with your own resources. Guidelines for not for profit staff

There are many different ways a not for profit organization can participate in the electoral process. A not for profit organization can:

  • Register voters
  • Use the organization’s resources to encourage people to vote
  • Help educate voters on the election and voting process
  • Provide (unbiased) transportation for voters to and from polling places
  • Volunteer your organization’s facilities as a polling place
  • Invite candidates to visit your organization for a tour, or a social event (Must invite all candidates to remain non-partisan)
  • Host non-partisan candidate forums to help residents and staff get to know the candidates

IRS Fact Sheet on Not For Profit Election Year Activities