The Hewlett, Gates, Packard, and Moore foundations have announced the release of an interactive resource designed to help foundation staff navigate the legal issues around election-related activities.
Offered through Learn Foundation Law, a Web site developed by the four foundations in 2010, "Electioneering Rules for Private Foundations and Public Charities" is the third in a series of free courses dedicated to legal issues that apply to private foundations and public charities, including the prohibition against "interven[ing] in an election campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office." Illustrated with real-life examples, the course provides an overview of Internal Revenue Service rules for 501(c)(3) organizations on a range of topics, including the electioneering prohibition, voter education, issue advocacy, interacting with candidates, and voter participation.
"We developed the [courses] because there is nothing else out there quite like them," said Mary Anne Rodgers, general counsel for the Packard Foundation. "There are a lot of things that people can do that do not violate electioneering prohibitions. We want people in the field to feel comfortable issue spotting, asking the right questions, and taking the appropriate legal steps."