Tag: advocacy

Understanding the new IRS rules for fast-tracking nonprofit status

Late last month, we linked to an article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy about new IRS rules that would fast track advocacy groups for nonprofit status. What does that mean for our region’s nonprofits? We asked the Nonprofit Roundtable’s Diana Leon-Taylor to shed some light on the new rules. As she explains, things won’t be different for most nonprofits.


By Diana Leon-Taylor
President and CEO, The Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington

The new IRS provision that fast-tracks 501(c)(4) approval in two weeks comes with a few stipulations. One is that the organization’s application must have been pending for more than 120 days as of May 28th, 2013. Another is that organizations must “self-certify” to allocating no more than 40% of their time and spending to partisan activities and at least 60% to social welfare. This safe harbor measure (called Path 2) is therefore only applicable to a narrow group of organizations, and will not affect future applicants. However, the clear directives could be helpful to set some guidelines for future applicants, as well as to IRS employees for the review process. It is important to note that the new stipulation does not apply at all to 501(c)(3)s, which account for the vast majority of tax-exempt organizations in the Greater Washington region.

It appears that this action is attempting to solve a major problem that is of the IRS’ doing. According to the tax code, 501(c)(4)s are supposed to be operated “exclusively” for social welfare activities. IRS regulations, on the other hand, changed that to “primarily engaged,” hence the confusion about what constitutes the appropriate level of partisan versus social welfare activities. This report marks the first time, as far as I know, that the IRS has come out publicly with a clear line in the sand (60/40 split). I only hope that IRS will continue to monitor all approved 501(c)(4)s to ensure compliance with this new criteria.

New report: Does nonprofit advocacy pay off? [News, 1.19.12]

ADVOCACY | A burning question in philanthropy: does funding advocacy actually pay off? A new study from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy says yes, it definitively does.

Advocacy by 110 nonprofit organizations over a five-year period has brought more than $26.6 billion in benefits to low-wage workers, communities of color, rural residents and other marginalized groups…

The report titled “Leveraging Limited Dollars: How Grantmakers Achieve Tangible Benefits by Funding Policy and Community Engagement,” found that every dollar grantmakers and other donors invested in policy and civic engagement provided a return of $115 in benefit.

Read: Full Report.

GIVING | The Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein, who recently donated more than $17 million to the National Zoo and the Archives, has announced that he’ll donate $7.5 million to help fix the Washington Monument’s earthquake damage. (WaPo, 1/19)

WORKFORCE | Following up on yesterday’s article about job training funding, WAMU says that the city has frequently offered training for industries that don’t have a high rate of hiring. The city is now working to focus its training opportunities in “high-growth, high-demand” industries. (WAMU, 1/19) There goes my hope of being trained as a private eye for animals.

COMMUNITY | Rebekah attended the Consumer Health Foundation’s annual meeting last week, and says that keynote speaker Angela Glover Blackwell gave a powerful talk about the need for an equity-driven model of growth in our region and across the country. Here’s her recap of the event. (WG Daily, 1/19)

YOUTH
– Junior Achievement of Greater Washington announced that it has opened the brand new College and Career Center at its Finance Park thanks to sponsorship from Deloitte. Read more about the new center and the Finance Park – which teaches students critical financial skills. (Junior Achievement, Jan ’12)

Fairfax Starts Domestic Violence Support Group For Children (WAMU, 1/19)

TRANSIT | Three Metro stories today:
Metro may install shields on buses to keep drivers safe (WaPo, 1/19) And what about the passengers? If somebody bothers me on the bus, I just make really loud noises and wave my arms around in kung fu motions. It usually scares people away, although sometimes I just end up fitting in with the other people on the bus.

– Metro’s Silver Line to Dulles might not go to Dulles anymore. (Examiner, 1/19)

– Two Metro employees have been arrested for stealing thousands of dollars in coins. (Examiner, 1/19) To make up for the lost revenue, Metro has proposed another fare increase. No, just kidding! Not yet, anyway…

LOCAL | The Post’s Robert McCartney tackles a pressing regional controversy and has a wise answer. (WaPo, 1/19)


Ever wonder what Abraham Lincoln really looked like…in color? Here’s a cool photo gallery where artist Sanna Dullaway adds vibrant color to iconic black-and-white photos.

On a related note, here’s a picture of (brilliant) actor Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln for Steven Spielberg’s now-shooting biopic. Day Lewis is known for staying in character for the duration of every movie shoot.