Lobbying and Advocacy Dos and Don'ts for Grantees

The Joyce Foundation is committed to improving public policy through its grant programs. Accordingly, the Foundation welcomes grant requests from organizations that engage in public policy advocacy. Federal tax law prohibits private foundations from funding lobbying activities. The Foundation may support organizations engaged in public policy advocacy by funding educational advocacy such as nonpartisan research, technical assistance, or examinations of broad social issues. The Foundation offers the following guidelines to help grantees make sure that their applications, their activities, and their reports help the Foundation comply with federal tax laws.

For further information on the relevant federal tax laws, grant applicants should consult their tax advisors.

Grant Applications

If you are requesting project support and part of the project involves lobbying, you must explain that you have sufficient funding other than Joyce Foundation funding to cover the lobbying portion of the project. Specifically, you must provide the Foundation with an allocated budget, allocating expenses between lobbying and non-lobbying activities. The amount of the requested grant must not be more than the amount of the project budget allocated for non-lobbying. The Foundation must not earmark or direct the grant to be used for lobbying. The Foundation can rely on the allocated budget unless it has reason to doubt its reliability.

Grant Reports

After receiving a grant, you must report to the Foundation on at least an annual basis how you have used the Foundation's grant funds. If you provided a project support budget in the grant application, we expect reports to describe how you have accomplished the activities outlined in that budget and to see the supporting financial statements. Should your reported activities differ from those approved by the Foundation in making the grant, the Foundation may ask for additional information to ensure that those activities are consistent with Foundation's charitable purposes. If those activities involved lobbying or political intervention, the tax law requires that we seek correction of those expenditures.

A grantee with many different funding sources for one project may engage in lobbying as part of the project. We understand that it is easier for grantees to submit the same project report to all funders. Such a report will satisfy the Foundation's reporting requirements provided it is tailored to indicate that no Foundation funds were used to fund any lobbying activities described therein.

Similarly, if the Foundation provided general operating support, a description of all of the grantee's activities may be appropriate.

Grantee Activities

Lobbying includes advocacy for a legislative solution to an issue if a specific legislative proposal is involved, even if no legislation has been introduced.

If Joyce funds are being used, when talking to a legislator or legislative staff member, do not:

  • refer to a specific legislative proposal or specific legislation.
  • take a position on that legislation.

When talking to the media, do not:

  • refer to and take a position on referenda or ballot initiatives.
  • refer to specific legislation or take a position on that legislation.

When speaking in any public capacity, do not: issue a "call to action," which includes the following:

  • urge the listener to contact a legislator or staffer (e.g. "Tell Congress what you think," "Call your Representative");
  • provide the address or telephone number of a legislator;
  • identify a legislator as opposing the legislation, as being undecided, as being a member of the committee considering the legislation, or as being the recipient's representative. Identifying the sponsor of the legislation does not count as a call to action.

When talking to executive branch officials, do not:

  • refer to and take a position on legislation.
  • engage in communications the primary purpose of which is influencing legislation.

Whether Foundation funds are being used or not, do not engage in political campaigning and intervention, which is prohibited for public charities and private foundations. Do not:

  • explicitly link a policy issue to an election.
  • promote one candidate over another as better on a particular issue or issues.
  • urge people to vote on the basis of an issue that divides the parties, which suggests that the message is really about the election outcome and not about the issue.

Your activities may include the following advocacy activities, because they do not constitute lobbying:

  • contacting members of Congress about proposed executive or judicial action;
  • making available the results of nonpartisan analysis, study or research on a legislative issue that presents a sufficiently full and fair exposition of the pertinent facts to enable the audience to form an independent opinion;
  • discussing broad social, economic, and similar policy issues with no discussion of the merits of related legislative proposals or solutions.

For further information on the relevant federal tax laws, grant applicants should consult their tax advisors.

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