Advocacy

PANO advocates on public policy issues that impact Pennsylvania’s nonprofit sector. We serve as a unified voice for the nonprofit community to influence policies and mobilize nonprofits as advocates around the state.

Why We Advocate

As social and economic drivers, nonprofits makeup 16% of Pennsylvania’s workforce and serve millions of Pennsylvania residents. We advance public policies that support a healthy nonprofit community and build the infrastructure needed for effective mission delivery. PANO’s public policy efforts include educating and engaging elected officials on issues of importance to the sector.

For the purposes of telling our collective COVID-19 story to our federal, state, and local authorities, please complete PANO’s Pulse Poll: COVID’s Impact on Pennsylvania Nonprofits.

Federal Advocacy View All »

S. 748: The CARES Act – What’s in the Bill for Nonprofits?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (S. 748) provides significant funding for businesses, hospitals, schools, and social support programs, among many other things. Below are key […]

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H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What It Means for Nonprofits

On March 19, the President signed into law, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill includes a complex set of temporary paid leave mandates and employer reimbursement […]

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Protecting Nonprofit Nonpartisanship

PANO supports policies that protect the integrity and independence of charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations which empower individuals of all beliefs to come together to solve community problems […]

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Our Goals

Elevate

Engage the collective voice of the Pennsylvania nonprofit sector to advance policy solutions that support strong, healthy nonprofits.

Educate

Increase the respect and support for the nonprofit community among elected officials and all Pennsylvanians.

Support

Give nonprofit employees the tools and resources they need to advocate on behalf of their organizations and communities.

FAQ

Can Pennsylvania 501(c)(3) nonprofits lobby?

Yes. Every charitable nonprofit can and should make its voice heard on issues that are important to its mission and to the people it serves. As advocates, nonprofits are required to speak up about policies, laws, and regulations. Lobbying by nonprofits is permitted by law. Unless a charitable nonprofit has elected to have a 501(h) designation, organizations may not spend a “substantial” portion of revenue on lobbying. The IRS does not define substantial.

What activities are considered to be lobbying?

On the federal level, lobbying is contact with a legislator to influence legislation. On a state level for PA, it is contact with a legislator or any member of state government to influence legislation or administrative action. This also includes time spent planning or researching in preparation for a lobbying contact. For reporting requirements, organizations should track the amount of time spent on activities that fit the federal definition of lobbying whether that be on a federal, state, or local level.

Educational contacts that do not include a call to action are not considered in the definition of lobbying.

Can Pennsylvania 501(c)(3) nonprofits participate in voter engagement activities?

Absolutely. Nonprofits have a constitutional right and responsibility to engage in policy-making processes. Though federal regulations require that nonprofits remain strictly nonpartisan (neither supporting nor opposing candidates for elected office), much can and should be done, including voter education guides, voter registration, get-out-the-vote drives, and candidate forums. Each of these activities is legally permissible if conducted in a strictly nonpartisan manner.

Can nonprofits electioneer (e.g. endorse candidates or parties)?

No. While lobbying by nonprofits is permitted by law, charities are strictly prohibited from electioneering. Electioneering is engaging in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. Charities cannot endorse any candidates, make donations to their campaigns, engage in fundraising, distribute statements, or become involved in any other activities that may be beneficial to or detrimental to any candidate for public office.

Charities must operate in nonpartisan mode. Charities must be aware that engaging in prohibited campaign activity could result in excise taxes imposed on the money spent electioneering, loss of tax-exempt status, and more severe penalties for flagrant violations.