AHSA Curiosities

David has uncovered some useful information about our friends at AHSA.  Bitter actually has a lot of expeirence professionally in this area of non-profit, so we’ll have to dig too.  Typically, it’s not unusual for a group like AHSA, which I’m guessing is organized as a 501(c)(4), to have a 501(c)(3) foundation to cover activities which 501(c)(3)s can do.  NRA also does this.

A (c)(3) can advocate for a political position, such as gun control, but it’s more limited in terms of lobbying for legislation.  Generally only about 15% of its activities can be used for this purpose.  However, a (c)(3) can’t make an endorsement.  I suspect what’s happening is that AHSA is not receiving more than $25k annually for its 501(c)(4) because it has no members, and its donors are giving to the foundation, which is tax deductible, and can fund most of the activities that AHSA is undertaking.  Their web site, newsletters, etc, so long as they don’t mention candidates or legislation, can be funded through the (c)(3).  Any activity associated with, say, endorsing Barack Obama would have to be funded by the (c)(4), though I doubt AHSA actually put anything other than a press release into that endorsement.

That’s not to say these boundaries don’t often get crossed in non-profit, so it’s important to keep an eye on our opponents.  The penalty for making a mistake here can include losing your status as a non-profit.