Nonprofit Advocacy: Speak Out for Good

Resources for Advocates and Activists

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign (AFJAC) is a resource and advocate for the 501(c)(4) community.

Our materials explain the legal framework that 501(c)(4) organizations must operate within, as well as practical tips for organizational staff, board members, and funders. These tools provide the building blocks for our ongoing training and assistance to the community.

We also serve as an advocate for 501(c)(4)s. We monitor proposals by Congress, the Administration, the Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service. If nonprofits’ rights as advocates are threatened, we will respond. If regulators try to burden 501(c)(4)s with regulations that will negatively impact their work, we will help develop alternative proposals and advocate for reasonable solutions.


Accountability Advocacy: How 501(c)(4)s Can Hold Elected Officials Accountable for Their Actions
Holding elected officials accountable for their policy positions and actions is a vital aspect of a nonprofit’s advocacy agenda. 501(c)(4) organizations are particularly well suited for accountability efforts. They may engage in a wide range of activities to remind legislators about the issues that matter to their communities and demonstrate to legislators that their votes and actions will not go unnoticed

Why (c)(3)s and (c)(4)s need to work collaboratively

Election years, when elected officials tend to be most responsive and engaged, are a very effective time for nonprofits to bolster their advocacy efforts. Often, 501(c)(3)s and 501(c)(4)s—affiliated or otherwise—work together to coordinate their advocacy activities to further their respective goals. While 501(c)(3)s may work together with 501(c)(4)s, they must structure their activities to ensure they do not jeopardize their tax exempt status.

Starting a 501(c)(4) organization
When you are committed to a cause, a nonprofit organization may be the right vehicle for promoting it. One of the first decisions you should make is which type of nonprofit organization will best help you meet your goals.

Strategy and Discussion Guide for 501(c)(4)s
What are the strategic questions to consider whether, when, and for what purposes to create a 501(c)(4)?

Primer on Social Welfare Organizations: Using 501(c)(4) Organizations for Good
This primer explains the 501(c)(4) basics, including what 501(c)(4)s can do and who donates to 501(c)(4)s.

A Timeline Chronicle of the Regulation of 501(c)(4) Organizations

The Case for Supporting Progressive Agendas with 501(c)(4) Advocacy
Why individual donors should give to 501(c)(4)s.

Fundraising Toolkit for a 501(c)(4) Organization
This toolkit addresses how new 501(c)(4) organizations should approach fundraising and discusses the rules and best practices of established organizations.

501(c)4 Reporting: When are donors disclosed?
Discusses when—and to whom–501(c)(4) organizations must disclose their donors.

Partisan Electoral Activity: What is it and what can you do?
Overview of the ways in which 501(c)(4)s, traditional federal PACs, Super PACs, and individuals may support or oppose candidates.

Independent Expenditures: What are they and what are the rules?
Explains what an independent expenditure is; how 501(c)(4)s, Conventional PACs, and Super PACs may make them; and reviews the rules and federal law that govern them.

Case Studies

Considering Starting a 501(c)(4)? Case Studies
Deciding whether—or when—to establish a 501(c)(4) organization is never an easy decision. Questions about purpose, scope, funding, perception, timing, and legal compliance all come into play. Here we present case studies that describe how three different groups, with different structures, needs, and pressures, answered the questions for themselves.

Nonprofits Working Together: Case Studies

Creating policy change is one of the most important roles nonprofits play. Public policy work is key for bringing about systemic, enduring change that can influence large segments of the population long into the future. Advocacy works best when various types of organizations—501(c)(3) public charities, 501(c)(3) private foundations, 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, and 501(c)(5) labor unions—work together.

Case Study: New York’s Women’s Equality Act

In New York, the Women’s Equality Coalition (“WEC”) worked, from 2013 to 2015, to support passage of a legislative package, the Women’s Equality Act (WEA). The WEA was a 10-point bill
designed to address barriers to women’s equality and to promote equity.

Case Study: California Sanctuary State Law

ICE Out of California is a statewide alliance that was created when state-based organizations decided to fight back against the federal government’s cruel and criminalizing deportation machine, having decided that they would be stronger and more effective together – speaking out with one voice.

Sample Documents:

Sample Articles of Incorporation
Sample Articles of Incorporation language for a 501(c)(4) corporation.

Sample Bylaws
Sample bylaws for a 501(c)4 corporation.

Sample Solicitation Pages
Sample donation pages for 501(c)4 organizations.

Sample Fundraising Plan
Sample fundraising plans for 501(c)4 organizations.

Blank Fundraising Worksheet
A sample fundraising worksheet for 501(c)4 organizations.

Sample 1024-A

Sample 1024-A Attachment A