Forum statement on why Johnson Amendment Matters

In a press release issued earlier this month, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, our parent association, took a stance on the Johnson Amendment. President & CEO David Biemesderfer wrote: 

“Private foundations, while barred from most lobbying activities, are free to engage in public debates, promote public education efforts, and fund a wide range of issue-focused activities. Charitable nonprofits, including religious congregations, are free to speak on important matters of the day and advocate on public policy issues and legislation relevant to their mission and important to their clients, members or communities.

But speaking out and engaging in advocacy on issues is an entirely different matter than endorsing political candidates or funding political campaigns. 501(c)(3) organizations should remain above the political fray, advocating and informing leaders but not engaging in political activity. Allowing charities to endorse and support political candidates is tantamount to allowing politicians to use the public’s goodwill towards the charitable sector as a vehicle to advance their own partisan political agendas. This would have the effect of politicizing and thereby erasing the public’s high trust in charities, painting them as partisan organizations rather than the nonpartisan community problem solvers that they are.”

See the full statement at givingforum.org.