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The Civics Center, a project of Community Partners

Advise on Discrete Questions Related to Lobbying Restrictions and Language Used for Fundraising


Assist an organization bringing voter registration to high schools by advising on discrete questions related to how tax laws impact their activities and appropriate language to use for their fundraising activities.

Referred by:

Jurisdiction(s): U.S.
About the Organization: The Civics Center is a nonpartisan project of Community Partners, a 501(c)(3) organization. Their mission is to bring voter registration to every high school in America. They do this by emphasizing two interventions: DATA and DRIVES. DRIVES is a reference to their education and organizing programs, the focus of which is training students and educators to run voter registration drives in high schools. Typically, The Civics Center does not send staff or volunteers to run the drives, but instead trains the students/educators to run them in their own schools and communities. In addition to training, they provide materials, such as “Democracy in a Box,” which includes posters, stickers, candy, etc. for the students/educators to use in their drives.
Legal Entity Type: Nonprofit/Charity
SDG(s): Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
Legal Issue(s):

The Civics Center is looking for advice on how tax laws impact their activities and the language they use to describe their programs for fundraising purposes. More specifically:

  • Some of their funding comes from private foundations, which are subject to section 4945(f) of the Internal Revenue Code (29 U.S.C. section 4945(f)).  They are looking for advice about the scope of section 4945(f), and how they should structure their grant agreements and other fundraising asks in light of the restrictions of 4945(f) and especially 4945(f)(5), which addresses geographic and temporal conditions on certain gifts.


  • A second question relates to conducting voter registration activities in compliance with 501(c)(3). They understand that as a (c)(3), they cannot support or oppose any candidate or party, but that in general, they can support various issues and ballot measures. They are looking for advice regarding compliance with 501(c)(3) including with regard to geographic focuses, age focuses, and association with / support of different issues.

If an attorney cannot assist with both questions, assistance with either would be greatly appreciated.