Playing Your Part – Q&A: The Rules that Allow Lobbying by Nonprofits
In general, what is considered lobbying?
Lobbying is the attempt to influence the passage or defeat of legislation through the presentation of views to any person in a position to affect that process: a member of Congress, a Congressional staff member, a state legislator, or a city council member.
Individuals as private citizens may lobby as much as they want, on whatever they want—there are no forms to file or expenses to report for individual citizens. Lobbying by individuals is not controlled or limited by the laws on nonprofit lobbying, as long as they are not being paid or reimbursed by the nonprofit for their lobbying.
By law, the IRS considers a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to be lobbying when it expends funds to urge, or to ask others to urge, a legislative official (officeholders, staff) to act one way or another on legislation. For the nonprofit organization, federal law makes two basic, modest requirements: 1) report on the annual tax return the total amount of funds expended for lobbying; and 2) do not exceed the limit on the percentage of your budget that can be devoted to lobbying.