The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) joins with other leaders of our charitable nonprofit sector in opposing efforts through legislation or Executive Order to eliminate or weaken the Johnson Amendment that prohibits 501(c)(3) charitable organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates and engaging in partisan campaign activities. 501(c)(3) organizations should remain above the political fray, advocating and informing but not engaging in political activity.
The members of MNA and the more than 30,000 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in Michigan, like our colleagues in other states, have operated as trusted nonpartisan organizations for more than 60 years. 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, making them partisan organizations rather than the nonpartisan community problem solvers that they are.
Speaking out and engaging in advocacy on issues is entirely different than endorsing political candidates or funding political campaigns. 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.
We urge members of Michigan’s Congressional Delegation to reject any proposal to insert partisan politics into our charitable sector, which will ultimately undermine the public trust in charities and make it much more difficult to do their important charitable work in our communities.