Public Policy Advocacy Guidelines

Shaarei Shamayim Public Policy Advocacy Guidelines

By, Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, President

Recently, an increasing number of CSS members have urged Shaarei Shamayim to take various public policy positions and actions. Many of you are receiving our Social Action Chair, Jen Rubin’s weekly Social Action emails, and many others are participating in CSS sponsored public policy activities. While the Coordinating Committee is pleased to see this increase in the CSS social action profile, we also need to be mindful of the limitations imposed upon us by our 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt status. Therefore, we have developed these public policy guidelines to ensure that we are able to continue to engage in important social action activities while preserving our non-profit tax-exempt status.

The following activities are strictly prohibited, and therefore CSS will not engage in as a congregation. This does not prohibit CSS members from taking these actions on their own. However, as a tax-exempt non-profit, CSS may not:

  • Endorse political candidates (please note that although we have not done this, it is okay for CSS to host candidate forums without endorsing any candidate);
  • Encourage voting for particular candidates (please note, it is okay for CSS to encourage our members to vote);
  • Contribute funds to political candidates or parties.

Regarding public policy issues, IRS regulations allow CSS to engage in issue-based advocacy as long as that advocacy does not become a major portion of our overall activity. Typically, if the IRS chose to investigate CSS’ public policy activity, it would examine the amount of our budget we spend on issue-based advocacy, as well as the amount of time our paid staff spends on issue-based advocacy, as a percentage of our budget and overall staff time. At this point, although we have recently increased our issue-based advocacy, it is still a minor portion of our overall activity and budget, and therefore, we are not concerned that we are endangering our non-profit tax-exempt status through that activity.

If you have any questions or concerns about our social action activities, please feel free to contact Rabbi Laurie, CSS President Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, and/or Social Action Chair Jen Rubin.