Pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, nonprofit organizations are prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, the Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that nonprofit organizations may conduct unbiased and nonpartisan public forums and may invite candidates to speak at functions. The following guidelines demonstrate that the meetings with presidential candidates at nonprofit organizations in New Hampshire will be unbiased and nonpartisan, and thus, should not be considered prohibited campaign activity.
- The New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits (the Center) will invite all legally qualified and viable candidates, according to reasonable and objective criteria.
- Each candidate will be provided an equal opportunity to speak at a similar event to the other candidates.
- The Center and the host nonprofit organization will make it clear that they are not supporting or opposing any candidate and that no fundraising may occur.
- The choice of location must be dictated by nonpolitical considerations.
- All candidates will receive an equal opportunity to present their views on questions prepared and presented in a nonpartisan manner.
- Each event must present a broad range of issues, including issues considered to be important educational interests to the Center and the nonprofit host organization.
- The moderator will not comment on the questions or imply approval or disapproval of the candidate responses.
- At the beginning and end of each event, the moderator must state that the views expressed are those of the candidate, not of the Center or the nonprofit host organization, and that the sponsorship of the event is not an endorsement of any presidential candidate.
- The Center and/or the nonprofit host organization may report what happens at the event, but must do so without editorial comment or endorsement and must circulate the report only through its normal channels of communication.
- Candidates will not be allowed to distribute campaign literature or display campaign signs during the event.
The political campaign intervention prohibition is not intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders of organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy. However, for their organizations to remain tax exempt under section 501 (c)(3), leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official functions of the organization. To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of organization functions and publications, organization leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization.
- All communications by the Center and the host nonprofit organization shall be unbiased and nonpartisan, including oral or written communications, such as invitations, announcements, press releases, or statements, whether in print or electronic media, including e-mail, internet, website or video.
- No communication by the Center or the host organization shall indicate any support for or opposition to the candidate (or any other candidate) and this shall be stated explicitly when the candidate is introduced and in any communications concerning the candidates attendance.
- No political fundraising shall occur at any NH Primary Project event, nor in any communications by the Center or the host organization.
- All communications by the Centerand the host organization (including video broadcast on a website) shall provide each candidate an equal opportunity to present his or her view on the questions presented in a consistent neutral basis for each candidate and without any indication of a preference for any candidate.
*These guidelines were developed by Consultant and Coordinator of the Project, Attorney Ann McLane Kuster of the firm of Rath, Young and Pignatelli
The Nonprofit Primary Project is an educational program of the NH Center for Nonprofits. The views expressed are those of the candidates, not of the NH Center for Nonprofits or the nonprofit host organizations. Sponsorship of the Nonprofit Primary Project by the NH Center for Nonprofits is not an endorsement of any presidential candidate.