Charities and other not-for-profits involved in lobbying and other political advocacy must comply with evolving laws governing these activities. Even amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the landscape continues to shift.
If amendments to the Lobbyists Act, introduced on April 11 by the Government of Alberta, are passed by the Legislature, the Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2018, would make Alberta one of the strictest regulators of lobbying in the country.
Not-for-profits should continuously assess current and emerging issues to determine whether to take a stand or policy position. Emerging issues may be strategically important to the organization and are often time-sensitive; the opportunity to take a stand on an issue may be fleeting because attention may soon be re-directed to something new. Not-for-profits will need ground rules or a framework for policy positions to effectively address emerging issues; the time to figure out a framework is not when the need arises.
Three key questions which you need to ask when taking policy positions are:
- Can the organization take a stand on the issue? As discussed in Not-for-Profit PolicyPro published by First Reference (in chapter NP 3.04 – Lobbying), a charitable organization must be careful not to jeopardize its charitable status by ensuring that it only participates in allowable political activities, and does not run afoul of lobbying legislation. Additionally,