Displaying items by tag: public impact

Do's and Don'ts of a Nonprofit in an Election Season

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As midterm elections draw ever nearer, it's time to refresh on what is—and isn't—allowed for your organization during the election season. Let's take a look at the key do's and don'ts as we come up to the 2018 midterm elections.

The first platinum rule for you as a nonprofit and as representatives of the nonprofit is that you may not endorse, support or oppose any specific candidate or political party. Your activities must be nonpartisan. The second platinum rule is that you as an individual—regardless of what your job is—may personally endorse, support or oppose any candidate or political party. To state it again:

  • A 501(c)(3) is not permitted to endorse, support or oppose any candidate for public office or any political party. Period. That is the law.
  • Second, as individual citizens who happen to be employed by nonprofits, you are certainly able to exercise your rights as citizens as guaranteed under the Constitution.

Let’s talk about what a nonprofit CAN do:

  • A nonprofit can conduct a voter education forum in a nonpartisan manner…in other words it is not truly nonpartisan if a nonprofit only invites one candidate. The forum must be held for the purpose of educating and informing voters, which provides fair and impartial treatment of candidates, and which does not promote or advance one candidate over another.
  • A nonprofit can operate a voter registration booth with its name displayed on the booth.
  • A nonprofit can provide transportation to the polls as long as it does not drive only those who will vote for a favorite candidate.
  • A nonprofit can target turnout efforts to the people or areas they serve, or population groups, students, elderly, minority groups.
  • A nonprofit can continue to do normal lobbying on issues.
  • A nonprofit can work on behalf of a ballot measure.
  • A 501 (c)(3) can rent or sell mailing lists to candidates at fair market value, as long as it is made available to all candidates.

Further, if a representative of a nonprofit is asked to speak publicly during an election cycle or specifically asked for opinions about candidates, representatives of a 501(c)(3) should:

  • Decide who will speak publicly on behalf of the 501(c)(3) organization, so that non-designated staff will not inadvertently say something inappropriate.
  • Script responses before talking to reporters.
  • Focus on what was said (the issue), not who said it (the candidate). Avoid talking about a candidate’s qualifications or whether someone is a good or bad candidate.
  • Avoid discussing a candidate’s record; commenting on a candidate’s record is very close to commenting on a candidate’s qualifications or whether he or she should be elected.
  • Avoid talking about voters and making references to the election. For example, instead of saying “Voters will not accept…” say, “Americans won’t accept...”
  • Avoid identifying the candidate by name. It is better to say: “During the recent Republican debate, statements were made about [topic]. We disagree…”
  • Be very cautious if a reporter asks about which candidate is better on the 501(c)(3)’s issues, or whether the 501(c)(3) agrees with a statement a candidate made. Issue the disclaimer: “Well, as you know, we are a nonprofit and are not permitted to endorse, support or oppose any candidate.” Then go back to scripted statements and rules above.
  • A 501(c)(3) organization may urge all candidates to take a stand or act on an issue, without commenting on specific candidate statements. For example, a 501(c)(3) organization may want to urge both major party candidates in a local, state, or federal race to take more forceful action on the issue of illegal guns and violence. A 501(c)(3) making this kind of communication should be careful to avoid criticizing any candidate, and should focus on the need for all candidates to take action.

What can a nonprofit NOT do:

  • A nonprofit cannot post anything on its website or in its office that favors or opposes a candidate for public office.
  • A nonprofit cannot distribute printed material that favors or opposes a particular candidate.
  • A nonprofit should monitor any content linked to its website.
  • A nonprofit cannot do political fundraising for any candidate.
  • Do not use the “magic words” vote for or vote against a particular candidate.
  • A nonprofit cannot contribute time, facilities or money to a candidate.
  • Do not coordinate activities with a candidate.
  • Do not publish anything in official newsletters, brochures or publications of any kind that favors or opposes a candidate.
  • Do not increase the organization’s level of criticism or praise of an official or devote a special issue of its publications to an incumbent’s favorable or unfavorable record.
  • Do not distribute more copies than usual of a regular publication during the campaign year.
  • Do not focus on the personal character or qualifications of an incumbent, or campaign contributions of the incumbent.
  • Do not connect the organization’s criticism of a voting record of an official to an election. For example, publicly remarking that an official is anti-immigrant and mentioning that people should register to vote.
  • Do not point out that a particular candidate’s actions (as opposed to official actions) or views are incorrect. For example, a 501(c)(3) should not urge the public to withhold campaign contributions for a Senator’s re-election if she votes for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” or remark that one candidate would be better than another candidate at creating green jobs if elected than another candidate.

Resources:

Let’s talk about what a nonprofit CAN do:

·       A nonprofit can conduct a voter education forum in a non partisan manner…in other words it is not truly nonpartisan if a nonprofit only invites one candidate. The forum must be held for the purpose of educating and informing voters, which provides fair and impartial treatment of candidates, and which does not promote or advance one candidate over another

·       A nonprofit can operate a voter registration booth with its name displayed on the booth

·       A nonprofit can provide transportation issues to the polls as long as it does not drive only those who will vote for a favorite candidate;

·       A nonprofit can target turnout efforts to the people or areas they serve, or population groups, students, elderly, minority groups

·       A non profit can continue to do normal lobbying on issues;

·       Work on behalf of a ballot measure;

·       A 501 c3 can rent or sell mailing lists to candidates at fair market value, as long as it is made available to all candidates.

Further, if a representative of a nonprofit is asked to speak publicly during an election cycle or specifically asked for opinions about candidates, representatives of a 501(c)(3) should:

·        Decide who will speak publicly on behalf of the 501(c)(3) organization, so that non-designated staff will not inadvertently say something inappropriate.

·        Script responses before talking to reporters.

·        Focus on what was said (the issue), not who said it (the candidate). Avoid talking about a candidate’s qualifications or whether someone is a good or bad candidate.

·        Avoid discussing a candidate’s record; commenting on a candidate’s record is very close to commenting on a candidate’s qualifications or whether he or she should be elected.

·        Avoid talking about voters and making references to the election. For example, instead of saying “Voters will not accept…” say, “Americans won’t accept……”

·        Avoid identifying the candidate by name. It is better to say: “During the recent Republican debate, statements were made about X. We disagree…”

·        Be very cautious if a reporter asks about which candidate is better on the 501(c)(3)’s issues, or whether the 501(c)(3) agrees with a statement a candidate made. Issue the disclaimer: “well, as you know, we are a nonprofit and are not permitted to endorse, support or oppose any candidate.” Then go back to scripted statements and rules above.

·        A 501(c)(3) organization may urge all candidates to take a stand or act on an issue, without commenting on specific candidate statements. For example, a 501(c)(3) organization may want to urge both major party candidates in the presidential race to take more forceful action on the issue of illegal guns and violence. A 501(c)(3) making this kind of communication should be careful to avoid criticizing any candidate, and should focus on the need for all candidates to take action.

What can a nonprofit NOT do:

·       A nonprofit cannot post anything on its website or in its office  that favors or opposes a candidate for public office

·       A nonprofit cannot distribute printed material that favors or opposes a particular candidate

·       A nonprofit should monitor any content linked to its website

·       A nonprofit cannot do political fundraising for any candidate

·       Do not use the “magic words” vote for  vote against a particular candidate;

·       Contribute time, facilities or money to a candidate;

·       Do not coordinate activities with a candidate;

·       Do not publish anything in official newsletters, brochures or publications of any kind that favors or opposes a candidate;

·       Do not Increase the organization’s level of criticism or praise of an official or devote a special issue of its publications to an incumbent’s favorable or unfavorable record.

·       Distributing more copies than usual of the publication during the campaign year.

·       Focusing on the personal character or qualifications of an incumbent or campaign contributions of the incumbent.

·       Connect the organization’s criticism to voting in an election. For example, publicly remarking that an official is anti-immigrant and mentioning that people should register to vote.

·       Pointing out that a particular candidate’s actions (as opposed to official actions) or views are incorrect. For example, a 501(c)(3) should not urge the public to withhold campaign contributions for a Senator’s re-election if she votes for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” or remark that one candidate would be better at creating green jobs if elected than another candidate.

Public Impact

 Commending the pregnancy help movement... Pregnancy Help Centers are Good for America!

BGTC2019HeaderEvery year, Heartbeat International brings moms and their children to Washington, D.C. to remind our congressmen and women that pregnancy help centers are good for America. Babies Go to Congress, held every year close to the March for Life, shows our elected officials at the federal level the amazing way lives change with the help of grassroots organizations like yours. There's no replacement for the flesh-and-blood testimonial of a mother holding her child to show lawmakers that pregnancy centers are good for america.

A key piece of information Heartbeat International always hopes to underscore through the event is the privately funded, non-profit status of pregnancy help organizations. Unlike most meetings congressional offices hold with their constituents, there is never any request for public funds as part of the event, a fact that also stands in stark contrast to highly profitable, publicly funded abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.

Since beginning the program in 2009, over 100 women and children representing over 50 centers have visited over 200 congressional offices.

Your center can benefit from participating in Babies Go to Congress this January. Click here for more information and take this opportunity to share during a truly historic moment in our nation's history!

 

Defending the life-savers... Heartbeat has your back

aoshieldOver the years, pregnancy centers have been under attack by abortion advocates from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Lady Parts Justice League, and many others. Heartbeat International is there to both officially refute the unfounded claims (through news coverage at PregnancyHelpNews.com), and to pass along needed information to affiliates through emails, conference calls, live or recorded webinars, and more. 

So wether it's a protest from "The Handmaids", a "glitter bomb" in the mail, or a campaign of false reviews on your organization online, Heartbeat International is always there to help affiliates respond appropriately. 

Learn more about Heartbeat's work of defending the pregnancy help movement here. (Note: Must be a Heartbeat affiliate to access)

Can we be non-political?

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Politics are messy. And that’s on a good day. The political process is at best frustrating and at times infuriating.

In the U.S. the politics of abortion has involved every aspect of government – executive, legislative and judicial branches; state houses and city halls; Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court; even school boards and health officials. After all of the political wrangling of the past four decades the issue is still far from settled.

Yet, the girl who walks into our care isn’t thinking about the “right” determined by seven justices in 1973. She isn’t considering the legal definition of personhood that would apply to her unborn child. She’s focused on a choice that she will carry the consequences of for the rest of her life. The politics are not even remotely a primary concern.

Kind-hearted, compassionate, pregnancy help folks often similarly eschew the politics and the public arena to focus their energies on this non-political client. They are not expecting to change a law at the nation’s capital, but instead are intent upon touching the life (lives) sitting in their counseling room. And while the inconclusive debates rage in far away capitols, the clear result of a baby being born shows the everyday effectiveness of our compassionate efforts.

Yet, the politics of abortion has spilled over into direct legislative attacks on pregnancy centers, and now abortions will be funded through state and national healthcare. For many it has been easy to avoid the politics and focus on the clients. Unfortunately, the politics has come now to us. Nathan Burd, former Public Policy staffer at Heartbeat, said it this way, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.”

Worse yet, limiting ourselves to only championing non-political compassion service efforts to reduce abortion is to gravely miss the reality that politicians are intent on increasing abortion through the legislative process. Even amidst the recent move of a majority of the populous to self-identify as “pro-life,” abortion is no longer just a “right” that is allowed by a Supreme Court decision, but it has become a healthcare option that must be funded and supported by everyone.

What we want less of, we tax. What we want more of, we subsidize.

Subsidies for abortion are set to increase at exponential levels in the U.S. through new health care laws.  The recent Supreme Court decision clarifies that a tax will be levied against those who fail to buy insurance that must cover abortifacients.  (Not even religious organizations are exempt.)

This must motivate our pregnancy help movement to get even more involved with political process. It is hypocritical for the interventionist to miss an opportunity for prevention.

Intervening with compassion will always be our primary calling. Yet missing the opportunity for prevention by influencing politics is to virtually guarantee that we will only have an increasing number of people in our counseling rooms who need our intervention. True compassion is doing both – intervening with those who are in the valley of decision and preventing others from ever needing our intervention.

Can we be non-political? Perhaps it is possible at an organizational level where we purposefully avoid certain “political” activities due to our tax status or for public relations positioning.   But it seems less and less possible in this era for each of us individually where politics is not only coming to our door but poised to dramatically increase the number of clients that we might serve.

Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress Speaks Life to Power

Babies Go to Congress

Shelly and KireeShelly and daughter Kiree at the Capitol.

Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress in the news:

Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress® puts a face on the very divisive issue of abortion, or, more precisely, what to do with an unexpected child. This July, Heartbeat International brought its tenth group of moms and babies to our nation’s capital at a critical time to speak life to power.

Once again, God equipped those whom He called to Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress. We had four affiliates participating from California, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas, bringing four moms, two infants, and two children. Dividing into teams, we held 14 congressional meetings in one day.

July’s Capitol Hill adventure brings our total number of participants to 150 since Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress began in January 2009.  That includes 34 affiliates from 23 states along with 86 moms and babies. We have held nearly 200 congressional meetings.

Those in attendance were thrilled with this Heartbeat event describing it as “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The moms involved did a fantastic job of explaining how pregnancy help organization staff and volunteers cleared away obstacles so they could welcome a new little life. Each mom, in her own engaging way, explained to her elected officials that even though there was pressure to abort her baby, the pregnancy help network made it possible to embrace motherhood.

One of the things that made this event unique is that we had a mom representing the Choctaw Nation.

Shelly Louis of Durant, Okla., not only had the opportunity to meet with her representative, but was very well received by U.S. Representative Cole, who happens to be the only Native American congressman. Shelly also met with both of her U.S. senators. Senator Coburn even took her aside and, with his hand placed affectionately on her shoulder, thanked her for choosing life for little Kiree.

Additional highlights included a meeting with Congresswoman Bachmann who shares our passion for life. Congresswoman Hartzler shared a wonderfully touching adoption story with our group. She also encouraged everyone to keep up the good work.

While the most pro-abortion administration in U.S. history promotes taxpayer sponsored abortion and mandates anti-child policies – because childlessness is cheaper – every pro-life American has a heightened responsibility to clarify the importance of providing alternatives to abortion.

Through Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress, we provide this opportunity for moms to let policy makers know that pregnancy help centers are good for America. It is our goal that U.S. lawmakers from every state understand that alternatives to abortion prevent coerced abortions.

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Click here to find out how you can be considered for our next trip to Washington D.C. January 23-24, 2013.

 

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