Can nonprofits get involved in politics?

Minneapolis nonprofit attorney Sarah Duniway discusses how non-profits can engage in political activity.

Contact Sarah Duniway

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (612) 632-3055


So it depends on what kind of a nonprofit it is. For most people the word nonprofit refers to an organization described in 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. For 501(c)3 organizations, they can get involved in lobbying and policy making part of politics, but they cannot get involved in influencing elections. There’s a flat prohibition on 501(c)3 organizations intervening in political campaigns for or against a particular candidate and it’s just a flat prohibition. Nonprofits can get involved in getting people involved in the political process, but they have to be very careful that it is completely nonpartisan.

There are other kinds of nonprofits, who have more flexibility to get involved in the election side of politics and those would be 501(c)4 organizations that have been in the news a lot recently, but some other kinds of organizations can too, like trade associations, which are 501(c)6 organizations.