Should we establish a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization?

The 501(c)(4) Strategy and Discussion Guide explores strategic questions that must be considered in determining whether, when, and for what purpose(s) to create a c4. Activists choose to establish c4s for different reasons. Common reasons include:

  • You need all the tools in the advocacy toolbox,
  • You want a change in elected leadership,
  • Your advocacy goals require a public referendum or ballot measure,
  • Your policy issue has become politicized, and/or
  • You need to protect the reputation of the 501(c)(3).

While there is no magic formula, the Guide, prepared by Alliance for Justice Action Campaign (AFJAC), Alliance for Justice, and Atlas Learning Project, walks through various considerations for establishing, managing, and maximizing the advocacy capacity of a 501(c)(4). Questions about what a 501(c)(4) can do? Read Primer on Social Welfare Organizations: Using 501(c)(4)s for Good.

In Considering Starting a 501(c)(4)? Case Studies, read how three different groups, with different structures, needs, and pressures, approached the decision of whether to establish a new 501(c)(4) organization. We delve into the decision-making process of Caring Across Generations, the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and the Colorado Health Foundation as they considered whether and how to spin c4 organizations.