Frequently Asked Questions
- Can RWJF funds be used for lobbying or political campaign activity?
- What is the difference between advocacy and lobbying?
- What should I do if my tax status changes?
RWJF grant funds cannot be used to fund lobbying or political campaign activities. Both of these activities are prohibited by the legal agreements established between RWJF and the grantee at the beginning of the grant. Sometimes grantees ask if they may lobby with non-Foundation funds. Grantees are free to carry on whatever activities they are otherwise permitted to conduct with other sources of support. If a grantee is conducting lobbying activities related to a project that RWJF supports, the Foundation may require the grantee to document that it has sufficient non-RWJF funding to engage in those activities.
See "Guidelines for Advocacy for RWJF Grantees" for more information about permitted and proscribed activities.
Whether an activity is permitted advocacy or prohibited lobbying or political campaign activity requires an analysis of the specific factual situation. As a general matter, prohibited lobbying requires a communication with a legislator about specific legislation or encouraging members of the public to contact legislators about specific legislation. However, the rules about both lobbying and political campaign activity are very detailed, and we urge you to become familiar with them. Many grantee organizations have in-house counsels who are familiar with these rules, and a number of educational websites also are available. See the websites of the Charity Lobbying in the Public Interest, the Alliance for Justice, the Council on Foundations, and Learn Foundation Law, all of which have helpful educational materials.
In making a grant to you, the Foundation needs to determine whether you are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, whether you are a private foundation under Section 509(a) of the Code and whether you are a Type III supporting organization under Section 509(a)(3)(B)(iii) of the Code. If, during the period of your grant, you are notified by the Internal Revenue Service that your status as a tax-exempt organization under any of these statutes has changed, you are required to notify the Foundation immediately. Send an email to LegalQuestions@rwjf.org.
Answers last updated March 5, 2013