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Free Online Legal Training on the Electioneering Prohibition

Monday, November 2, 2015

With election season approaching, foundations are looking for ways to make sure their staff members understand the rules regarding election-related activity for 501(c)(3) organizations. Legal staff at NCG members Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationWilliam and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation teamed up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to give us a tutorial. Did we mention it's free? Guest blogger Sasha Abrams, Deputy General Counsel for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, shares her insights and tools.


As campaigning for the U.S. presidency gains momentum, it’s important for staff at private foundations and public charities to understand the IRS electioneering prohibition. This rule prohibits 501(c)(3)s from funding or engaging in any activities to support or oppose candidates for public office.

Understanding the electioneering prohibition can be challenging. To assist private foundations and public charities in learning the rules, legal staff at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation have created a free, online training tool that covers Electioneering Rules for Private Foundations and Public Charities.

I hope you will try the course and share it with your colleagues! The goal of this course is to provide the tools needed to spot potential issues surrounding the IRS electioneering prohibition. The training also presents examples of specific nonpartisan activities that private foundations and public charities can do under these rules. 

This training is part of the Learn Foundation Law series, a collaboration among legal staff at the four foundations to help private foundations and their staff better understand the legal rules in grantmaking. These animated trainings take users between 30 and 90 minutes to complete and feature “Maya,” a foundation program officer who guides users. The trainings supplement existing in-person workshops and training that legal counsel at foundations provide to staff.

I encourage you to explore other topics in the series including Advocacy and Lobbying Rules for Private Foundations, Expenditure Responsibility Rules for Private Foundations and Program-Related Investment Rules for Private Foundations. All of these trainings, and a supplemental toolkit to promote them within foundations, are available free of charge at