What are the different advocacy activities that 501(c)3 organizations can undertake?
On May 5, 2019, IMAN Associates members and Advisory Council members convened for the Bi-annual General Body Meeting and participated in discussions on an array of topics.
In his legislative update, Andrew Bauman, a member of our lobbyist team and a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, focused on Hate Crimes Legislation and how it emerged during the session. IMAN Associates President, Syed Ali Saeed, gave an overview of the organizational activities during the legislative session and highlighted future events and projects.
We were delighted to have Sen. Jim Merritt (R- Indianapolis) join the meeting and explore the issue of "affordable housing shortage in the Greater Indianapolis area." Since this issue has been brought up to our attention by one of our Advisory Council members, we ceased the opportunity to inquire about the root causes and any potential legislative fixes.
The meeting concluded with our guest speaker, Dr. Shariq Siddiqui, the Inaugural Director of Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, who delved into the different advocacy activities that 501(c)(3) faith-based nonprofit organizations (including mosques, Islamic charities and schools) can undertake. Dr. Siddiqui stressed that the 501(c)(3) status given to faith-based organizations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) encourages their involvement in advocacy. In fact, there is a 5% expenditure limit that faith-based organizations can devote to specific advocacy activities, such as
public education, nonpartisan voter education, meeting legislators, training and organizing. Dr. Siddiqui recommended using Friday Khutbah as a vehicle for educating the congregation about a certain legislative issue and fostering their civic engagement. To this point, we found this toolkit, created by Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, to empower Imams with factual information on how civic engagement stems from the core values of Islam. Also, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) published a case study about the role of mosques in promoting civic engagement. Reimagining Muslim Spaces: Understanding Effective Civic Engagement carefully follows the journey of one of the Islamic centers in California and how it adopted civic engagement as a high priority and ingrained it in its organizational culture.
We highly encourage our Advisory Council members to utilize these reliable resources. IMAN Associates is committed to collaborating with mosques and Islamic centers around Indiana to host nonpartisan forums, trainings and voter education events.
Check our newsletters for the latest updates at the Indiana Statehouse and upcoming events in the Muslim community.