What is a 501c4?
EveryLibrary is fundraising to become a registered 501(c)4 social welfare organization. Just what does that mean? And what can c4 organizations 'do' exactly?
Lets take a look first at a description from BoardSource that we'll take apart and discuss:
According to the Internal Revenue Service, to be tax-exempt as a 501(c)(4) organization, a nonprofit must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. This means that the organization must operate primarily to further, in some way, the common good and general welfare of the people of the community (such as by bringing about civic betterment and social improvements). A 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may further its social welfare purposes through lobbying as its primary activity without jeopardizing its exempt status. However, it is not able to receive tax-deductible donations.
First off, a 501c4 is a creature of the IRS and not the Federal Election Commission like a traditional PAC. EveryLibrary will work within the law and current regulation to ensure that the donations we receive are spent in support of our mission, including hiring staff and consultants to help create excellent resources for library campaigns to use in get-out-the-vote and voter education efforts.
Set-up as a Non-Profit Corporation
EveryLibrary will be registered in Illinois as a non-profit corporation. This non-profit status helps further our work and your donations. EveryLibrary will also be hiring political consultants who are experienced with grassroots organizing, voter analytics, and messaging to help create create campaigns that succeed. Initially, we will build toolkits. Over time, we expect to have the staff who can help your library's initiative from pre-filing through election day.
Promoting Social Welfare
(see also: the common good)
EveryLibrary's charter and bylaws will be set up with three main goals in mind: to educate voters about the importance of libraries in their lives and in their communities; to fundraise in support of local libraries as they place initiatives on the ballot; and to provide assistance to citizen-committees who wish to work on getting library ballot measures passed.
501c4s are able to raise funds and expend monies to support their mission and purpose. EveryLibrary is not focused in any way on candidates at any level of government. We are dedicated exclusively to helping libraries win at local ballot measures. This focus on issues and initiatives allows EveryLibrary to fundraise from individuals, corporations, unions, and certain foundations to conduct our lobbying activity. And who do we lobby? Ultimately, voters. We talk to them about libraries - an institution that matters in society - especially when there is something on the ballot. We want to work with local committees and PACS to do this in a way that is right for the community.
If you donate to EveryLibrary, your donation is not tax-deductible like it would be to a 501c3 charity. What it is, though, is powerful. It makes a difference as EveryLibrary is being set-up properly as a 501c4 to act politically in the world on behalf of libraries. And your donation ensures that local ballot committees for libraries have the resources they need - both in technical advice on running a campaign and in direct financial support for their work. Make your donation before November 7th, 2012 at www.rally.org/everylibrary. You can't write it off - but you should show off your support for libraries.