Lobbying Restrictions

Chapters or councils must strictly account for the portion of its activities devoted to lobbying.

In the case of either direct or grassroots lobbying, IRS rules require that a tax-exempt organization not devote a substantial part of its expenditures to lobbying. Chapters should restrict lobbying expenditures to no more than five percent of their annual budgets and refrain from any lobbying altogether unless there are well established accounting procedures for tracking expenditures and maintaining them at or below five percent.

The IRS defines “lobbying” very narrowly. Lobbying is the act of asking (such as through a letter or direct communication) an elected official or their staff to take action on a piece of legislation, such as voting for, against, or cosponsoring a bill. The official definition of “legislation” is reprinted below:

Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

Controls are in place at the national level and applied to expenditures for activities such as congressional testimony, the Grassroots Activist Network, and direct mail appeals. Chapters and councils generally do not have such controls in place, and thus must exercise cautious restraint when it comes to lobbying. Additionally, no council or chapter should employ or retain the services of a lobbyist unless it files a 990 return with the IRS and is able to demonstrate in the filed return that its expenditures, in connection with the lobbyist, as well as any other lobbying expenditures, are collectively less than five percent of its total annual expenditures.

Please be sure to contact staff before engaging in any lobbying activities.


TU Volunteer Leaders trainings are a powerful way to connect with resources, learn from fellow volunteers and grow your impact locally. Join us for the following events:

In-Person Trainings:

2021 Annual Meeting
Due to increasing COVID-19 concerns and projections, the 2021 Annual Meeting is cancelled.

2021 Regional Rendezvous
Due to increasing COVID-19 concerns and projections, the 2021 Regional Rendezvous are postponed.

Online Trainings:

View past training recordings or join an upcoming live, online webinar, held at 8 p.m. EST unless otherwise noted.

February 23 — Virtual Advocacy: Using Online Petitions to Grow Impact (8PM)

March 4 — Filing the NEW Annual Activity Report & IRS Reporting Requirements (8PM)

March 15 — Embrace A Stream Grant Training (8PM)

March 29 — Effective Digital Communications During COVID (8PM)

April 8 — TU Event Registration Tools to Better Manage and Promote Your Activities (8PM)


Your Volunteer Operations Staff is here to help! 

Nick Halle
Volunteer Operations Coordinator
(703) 284-9425
Contact Nick for:

  • Volunteer Leader Login Issues
  • Insurance Requests / Questions
  • Fundraising Program & Support
  • Membership Recruitment Tools
  • L.L. Bean Rod Donations

Lisa Beranek

Leadership Development Manager
(907) 205-0974
Contact Lisa for:

  • Leadership Recruitment & Development
  • Embrace A Stream Grants Program
  • Strategic Planning Support
  • Diversity Event Planning