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.