Critical news about integrity of nonpartisanship of nonprofits and funding cuts


Don’t worry, you are not forgetting what day it is, today is not Tuesday. There is just some critical news coming from the other Washington that is impacting nonprofits that I want you to know about and I would rather not push aside my coverage of one of our local nonprofit organizations.

Are Nonprofits Nonpartisan?

Last month, Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee published a “request for information” about “political campaign intervention” by 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits and 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. Click on this link if you would like to read the news release and full 13-page request for information letter.

Basically, Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-MO) and Oversight Subcommittee Chair David Schweikert (R-AZ) are questioning whether efforts should be made to revise the definition of “political campaign intervention” and asking for evidence of groups violating the law on nonpartisanship, to improve how “contributions” are reported on the IRS Form 990, plus numerous questions about foreign money going into charitable, social welfare, and truly political organizations.

The Response is Yes.

In response to the Chairs’ request for information, the National Council of Nonprofits (NCN) took the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of nonpartisanship and the integrity of the nonprofit sector. They wrote in their response, “It would be extremely unhelpful to 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits for the IRS to engage in rulemaking on how to define ’political campaign intervention. We do not believe there are systemic or widespread abuses by 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations engaging in prohibited activities to influence partisan elections. Nonetheless, we recognize threats abound that demand vigilance and collaboration between charitable organizations, law enforcement, and policymakers”.

It should be noted that 501(c)(3) organizations – frontline charities, churches, and foundations – are nonpartisan in law, fact, and culture, and are committed to remaining that way to ensure their integrity and impact. For years, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit community has stood united in support of the federal law requiring nonpartisanship and in opposition to those attempting to politicize the charitable sector in their quest for partisan, personal, and financial gains.

Local Nonprofits May Be Impacted by Cuts
The House and Senate are proposing to cut AmeriCorps funding for Fiscal Year 2024, with the House bill proposing a reduction of 50% and eliminating all funding for AmeriCorps education awards. Recognizing the impact these cuts can have on communities, Voices for National Service is leading a sign-on letter in support of FY24 funding for AmeriCorps. [Read more]  AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connect more than 75,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet our country’s critical needs in disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families. SERVE Washington coordinates the AmeriCorps program in Washington and according to their latest report, at least eight local nonprofit organizations in Thurston County benefit from this program.

AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency created to connect Americans of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to give back to their communities and their nation. AmeriCorps is made up of three programs: AmeriCorps State and National; AmeriCorps VISTA; and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). The Corporation also oversees the Senior Corps. Together these programs engage more than 1.5 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year. AmeriCorps members serve with nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and faith-based and community organizations. Since 1994, more than 1 million men and women have provided needed assistance to millions of Americans across the nation through their AmeriCorps service. Full-time members who complete their service earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $6,495 (October 1, 2021, through September 30, 2022) to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans. Members who serve part-time receive a partial Award. Some AmeriCorps members may also receive a modest living allowance during their term of service. Find out more about the benefits of service.

Soliciting your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at  MaryBeth@theJOLTnews.com


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  • jimlazar

    There is a big differences between non-PARTISAN and non-POLITICAL.

    Many local churches that are tax-deductible engage in political activities of many kinds. A couple of our local school board races are church-centered, with candidates who favor book banning and reducing efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    Some local non-profits actively lobby the City and County on various issues. An example that probably troubles very few of us is Habitat for Humanity seeking agency cooperation in facilitating housing development for low-income families. But it's still POLITICAL.

    Yes, in theory charitable organizations are non-PARTISAN. But that does not mean they are non-POLITICAL.

    My personal favorite local charity, the Thurston Climate Action Team, is absolutely non-PARTISAN. But most of its volunteers spend their time trying to convince the Cities and the County to implement the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan. That is certainly POLITICAL.

    At the federal level, it becomes more extreme. Organizations like the Federalist Society spent tens of millions of dollars every year influencing who is chosen to serve as federal judges. Because judge positions are not PARTISAN, this is allowed. But it certainly has had a PARTISAN impact in the past several years.

    Look carefully at the charities you donate to. Know where they spend their money. Know how much they spend on fundraising versus providing program services. You can research these on Guidestar, CharityNavigator, Give.com, Giving Compass, and other services.

    Please visit www.thurstonclimateaction.org to see what a POLITICAL, but defintely NONPARTISAN charity can do with your contribution.

    Thursday, October 12 Report this

  • mbharrington

    A nonprofit is not allowed the same political influence as a for profit. Mostly what nonprofits can do is advocacy which comes in the form of education. They can lose their nonprofit status if they openly support a particular political person, party or issue. Some faith based organizations lost their nonprofit status during a recent election when it was proved that they were politicizing from the pulpit. However Congress has recently relaxed some of the rules which allows for what may appear as lobbying efforts of nonprofits.

    Under Section 4911(c)(2) of the Code, the maximum allowable annual lobbying is the sum of: 20% of the first $500,000 of an organization's exempt purpose expenditures, plus. 15% of the second $500,000 of such expenditures, plus but even these efforts are still limited as to what is allowable.

    Tuesday, October 17 Report this