501(c)3 and 501(c)4 Information

Dear Kim,

When all is fails, ask Kim Klein! I work with two affiliated organizations; one is a 501(c)(3)(our research and education affiliate) and the other is a 501(c)(4)(the lobbying arm). Both have separate boards of directors of course, and until recently, these boards met separately — even though the general discussion was often relevant to both organizations. At a board development retreat, a consultant told us that she thought we could do joint board meetings as long as they split off to take any action (approve budgets, pass resolutions) separately. We want to verify that this is correct advice. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching this and haven’t come across any information or even references to this situation.
Please help – do you know the answer or can you give me any ideas about where to search?
Thanks very much for your help.
—501(c)onundrum

Dear Conundrum,

I have to admit that I don’t know the answer, but fortunately I can give you some ideas about where to search. First you can visit the Alliance for Justice website:
http://www.afj.org/

Their mission is to “strengthen the public interest community’s ability to influence public policy,” and they are the best resource on 501(c)3/501(c)4 issues that I have come across. You’ll find information about their workshops, publications, and technical assistance on their website.

Second, you can check out the book ““(C)(3)s, (C)(4)s, & PACs: A Primer on Political Activities and Tax-Exempt Organizations ” from the ProChoice Resource Center.
—Kim