Eastern University Policy Statement: Guidance for Eastern University (EU) community regarding Internal Revenue Service (IRS) limits on engagement in electoral politics.

In exchange for its tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EU may not directly or indirectly participate in campaigning for or against any political candidate or party for elected office.  Any violation of these rules could result in the revocation of EU’s tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain federal excise taxes.  

Among other things, this means that EU or personnel speaking on behalf of EU may not publicly endorse or oppose any political candidates or parties at federal, state or local levels.  The following guidance will help us avoid several of the most common IRS infractions experienced by nonprofit institutions:

  • Institutional funds should not support any political candidate or party activity.
  • Institutional assets should not be used for candidate-related or political party-related electoral purposes. This includes Eastern University's physical assets (such as facilities, staff time, statitionery, telephones, computers and mobile devices) as well as its virtual assets (such as EU e-mail accounts, social media channels and other web-based communication platforms).
  • Employees speaking, writing or acting publicly in their capacity as individuals on behalf of a political candidate or party may only reference their institutional title and affiliation if they include the disclaimer that they only do so for identification purposes and clearly state that they do not speak on behalf of EU.

Many political activities that are consistent with our educational mission are not impeded by IRS guidelines for nonprofit organizations provided they are conducted in a non-partisan manner.  These include activities that encourage active and informed participation in the electoral process such as public forums, voter registration drives and voter education.  

For more information on these and other IRS guidelines that impact 501(c)(3) organizations, please review IRS Publication 1828; visit the Pew Research Center website for a Q & A treatment of this topic or view this IRS video.

Adopted by: Eastern University Leadership Team: July 19, 2016