What Staff Can Do - On and Off the Job
Staff members of nonprofits are frequently involved in campaigns or asked to support candidates. Since nonprofit staff are involved in community affairs, they may want to support a candidate who has helped their organization or neighborhood.What you or another nonprofit staff member does in your personal time is a private choice. However, a staff member cannot be seen as representing the organization on a campaign nor may they use organizational resources for a candidate.
Q: When is it personal time?
A: Nonprofit staff can support the candidate of their choice outside of normal work hours. If staff members want to engage in partisan activities during normal work hours, they should take vacation or personal leave.
Q: Can the organization be mentioned?
A: Your organization cannot support a candidate. As a rule, it’s safer if the organization’s name is not mentioned if a staff member’s name appears on candidate literature in the course of that staff member’s personal political work. However, it is permissible to list the organization along with the staff member’s name if it is clearly stated that it is “for identification purposes only.” This can be helpful in clarifying that organizational leaders are involved in their individual, not official roles. Always remember that there may be other reasons you may not want your nonprofit’s name associated with a campaign. For example, it might be awkward seeking public funds for your organization if a candidate you opposed wins the election!
Overall, as a nonprofit staff member you’ll find that there is a great deal you can do for candidates when not representing the organization.
Q: What about board members and volunteers?
A: Board members and volunteers should follow the same rules for staff described above when they are working for your organization. What they do outside of your organization is their choice.
Q: What if a candidate lists my name and organization without my permission?
A: Over-eager candidates may list your nonprofit on a campaign brochure. If they did this without your permission you are not at fault. Just ask them to remove your organization’s name from the list. Save a copy of your e-mail or written request to the candidate in your files.
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