Serving Nonprofits. Strengthening West Virginia.

Nonprofit Nonpartisanship Under Attack

The West Virginia Nonprofit Association joins the National Council of Nonprofits and other charitable organizations in opposing any effort to repeal the Johnson Amendment.

Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has barred charitable nonprofits from engaging in partisan political activities, such as endorsing a candidate, while still allowing nonprofits to advocate for policies that help their clients and move their mission forward. Recent efforts at the federal level put the Johnson Amendment at risk. And if the Johnson Amendment is repealed, the trust that forms the foundation of the nonprofit sector would likely go with it. Nonprofits are safe spaces where people can turn for services, support, comfort, spiritual guidance and inspiration regardless of their political beliefs. Our clients should not worry if they will get the services and support they require if their partisan views do not align with a nonprofit’s views. And our donors should feel confident that charitable contributions go toward advancing the mission, not toward advancing the careers of politicians or lining the pockets of political consultants

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Previous Updates on the Status of the Johnson Amendment

Most Recent Update:

3/22/18 UPDATE: Johnson Amendment Left Unharmed, for Now

Wednesday night, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released the text of the omnibus spending bill, officially titled the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, designed to fund the federal government through the current fiscal year 2018 that ends on September 30. The 2,232-page bill contains numerous extraneous policy riders, but lawmakers did not include a provision to repeal or weaken the longstanding Johnson Amendment, the law that protects charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations from partisan politics.

Thanks to strong, united self-defense lobbying by charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations from all 50 states and DC, the omnibus spending bill does not include language sought by powerful politicians and well-funded special interests to dismantle the Johnson Amendment that for 60+ years has protected 501(c)(3) organizations from the perils of divisive partisan politicking. The anti-Johnson Amendment forces tried to attach a policy rider to the spending bill that would have politicized charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations. Their aggressive campaign, however, was blocked by people across America who knew how devastating it would be to undermine nonprofit nonpartisanship.

In a news release, National Council of Nonprofits President and CEO Tim Delaney stated: “Keeping intact the longstanding law known as the Johnson Amendment is at least a short-term victory for 501(c)(3) organizations and the American people.” He acknowledged, “It would be nice to celebrate a long and hard-fought victory, but we cannot afford to relax,” reminding all that last year “prominent politicians and well-funded lobbyists tried to gut the Johnson Amendment through an executive order and five separate bills.” The statement continued by observing, “[t]heir zeal last year suggests they likely will continue their push to hijack charitable goodwill for their own political ambitions while rewarding their supporters with charitable tax deductions for partisan donations.” If so, all who care about the missions and effectiveness of charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations will once again need to “rise in force to defend this vital, longstanding protection.”

The 501(c)(3) community must remain vigilant because anti-Johnson Amendment language could resurface yet again in this spending bill (especially if there are delays in passage that open the door for further negotiations — as discussed below), in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations process this summer, or in other bills. If youhaven’t signed your organization onto the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship, we encourage you to join the nearly 5,800 charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations in expressing strong support for maintaining the Johnson Amendment. See who has signed.