Participating in Political Activity
Information for Clubs, Informal Groups, Classes, and Special Interest Groups
November 28, 2016
The Alumnae Association connects the global community of Mount Holyoke women with each other and the College as we create meaningful change in the world. Currently the Association’s membership includes approximately 37,000 graduates of the College. Our members are diverse on every measure—age, race and ethnicity, profession, religion, and lifestyle, including political opinion. As clubs, groups, and classes organize activities for the alumnae members of their community, it is critical that that everyone feel welcome and included.
The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College is a registered 501(c)(3) in the United States, as are many clubs and class groups. US federal tax law strictly prohibits charitable organizations from participating in, or intervening in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. This prohibition applies to activities in connection with election to any position of public office at the federal, state, or local level. A violation of the political activity prohibition can result in a revocation of the Association’s and/or the group’s tax-exempt status.
Officers and leaders of any of our groups (formal or informal clubs and groups, classes, and special interest groups) are responsible for ensuring that group activities are non-partisan and cannot be construed as “political activity,” such as supporting specific political candidates or partisan issues or used as a vehicle for those seeking elected and appointed offices. No Association or group funds or resources may ever be used to support or oppose political candidates, campaigns, committees, or parties.
Alumnae Association classes, clubs, and groups may encourage the participation of public officials in events and activities as a forum to discuss issues facing our community of individuals. The involvement of such individuals provides a unique opportunity to learn about and engage in discussion and dialogue on important issues facing our alumnae and to communicate with policymakers about Mount Holyoke and our Association. Our status as a 501(c)(3) simply means that the spokesperson and public officials participating in Association events may not make, may not endorse, or may not in any way advocate the election or defeat of any candidate or political party.
The Alumnae Association respects and values the rights of its alumnae in their personal capacity to support particular political viewpoints. Each one of our alumnae plays a role in fostering connections among us every day. We know that we will do so in a powerful way.
All questions regarding whether a specific activity may be considered participation or intervention in a political campaign or activity should be directed to the Alumnae Association at 413-538-2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.