[Foundation-l] Blackout at Italian Wikipedia

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Wed Oct 5 01:36:07 UTC 2011

On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 8:21 PM, Mark <delirium at hackish.org> wrote:

> On 10/5/11 1:50 AM, Ryan Kaldari wrote:
> > The WMF isn't allowed to lobby for or against legislation, per our 501c3
> > non-profit status in the US. This is not necessarily true for chapters
> > though, and definitely not true for the communities.
> >
> Somewhat true, but not a red line. The IRS gives this wonderfully vague
> formulation: "A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but
> too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status".

Thanks, Mark - I was about to say this as well.

The WMF can engage in limited lobbying.  I think we should do more than we
have to date, where essential to our mission.  It would be harder to spread
free knowledge to everyone without the open web, which is regularly
endangered by short-sighted policies.

A 501c3 is prohibited from influencing elections for public office, but can
otherwise influence policy -- limited primarily in how much money or staff
time is spent on lobbying.   The clearest test for "how much" is an
expenditures test.

As John V says, the IRS treats all policy lobbying the same here, national
or international.

Phil Nash:
> I don't think that there is a distinction between "lobbying" and

One thing a 501c3 is prohibited from doing is influencing elections for
public office in a partisan way, including supporting or opposing any
specific politician.

CLPI has a good practical summary of the law in this area:


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