Nonprofits can, and often should, work in coalitions with other organizations. Working in a coalition allows you to have a greater impact and lends credibility to your efforts. It also allows organizations to share financial, staffing and organizing resources. It’s important to know, however, that there are different advocacy rules that apply to coalitions. The guidelines for lobbying and election-related activity vary depending on how the coalition is organized and funded, as well as the structures of the participating organizations.

Nonprofits often create affiliated organizations to expand their advocacy options. For example, a 501(c)(3) organization that wants to engage in more lobbying than is permitted might create an affiliated 501(c)(4) organization that could engage in unlimited lobbying. Non-501(c)(3) organizations that want to engage in more partisan election activity may create a 527. Alternatively, a non-c3 organization may create an affiliated c3 to engage in educational activities and raise tax-deductible and foundation funds.  There are practical considerations and requirements for structuring and managing the relationships between affiliated organizations.

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20 Resources

Coalition Checklist

This new Advocacy Resource is designed to guide organizations through the process of forming and working in coalition with easy-to-understand explanations of the most common forms of coalitions, how to fund them, how to work on the most common types of joint activities, and how partners can share resources. The guide also provides sample agreements that should help coalitions come to agreement on decision-making processes and other issues before conflict arises. …

Amplify Your Voice: Lobbying Do’s and Don’ts

You have a voice – it’s time to use it. Lobbying is a key way nonprofits can advance their mission, amplify the voices of their supporters, educate policymakers, and protect the values they hold dear.…

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.…

501(c)(4) Strategy and Discussion Guide

What are the strategic questions to consider whether, when, and for what purposes to create a create a 501(c)(4)? Check out our new 501(c)(4) Strategy and Discussion Guide.…

Comparison of 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political 527 Organizations

This chart offers an overview of the different types of organizations and what kinds of activities each may conduct and highlights some that they may not conduct. It is excerpted from our popular guide “The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations.”…

The Connection: Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations

Since it was first published in 1998, The Connection has provided nonprofits with guidance on how they can engage with the public, lawmakers and candidates to effect public policy, and how these organizations can coordinate together, even in an election year. This guide focuses on the role c4 organizations play in our democracy—as stand alone organizations but also in conjunction with affiliated c3s and with political organizations (PACs).…