Influencing Budget Legislation


Victor Rivera Labiosa, Leslie Barnes, Tim Mooney

On this episode we dive into ways your organization can weigh in on government budgets and legislation, bringing needed change to your communities.
Whether you focus on housing, health care, the environment, education, public safety, civil rights, or virtually any nonprofit activity is impacted by the government budget. There are many opportunities for nonprofits to educate policymakers and the public alike about the critical impact government funding plays in people’s lives. Today, we’ll discuss how nonprofits can influence the budget process and more.

Our Attorneys for This Episode:

Victor Rivera Labiosa Quyen Tu Leslie Barnes

1. Nonprofits Can Influence the Budget Process  

  • Government budgets counts as specific legislation 
  • Most but not all budget work counts as lobbying 
  • Public charities can lobby 
  • 501(c)(4)s, 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6) do not have a federal lobbying limit 
  • Private foundations cannot earmark funds for lobbying but can fund grantees that lobby and engage in non-lobbying advocacy 

2. The budget process starts with the executive  

  • President presents budget in February (see federal timeline in resources) 
  • Each state’s budget process is different 
  • Ex – TX legislature meets only every 2 years, working on state budget in 2023 
  • Bills go through a committee process, opportunity for public input 
  • Before that, there is opportunity to influence the draft budget 
  • Opportunity to influence the budget at many stages 
  • Influencing the administrative agencies on what to include in their budget request may be lobbying – do it, track it! 
  • Working to implement how money is allocated after budget is enacted is generally NOT lobbying for IRS purposes. Beware state lobbying registration and reporting 

3. Ways to impact the budget process

  • Attend public hearings – inform public about when public hearings occur  
  • Direct Lobbying 
  • Grassroots Lobbying  
  • Educating the public using Nonpartisan Analysis Study and Research  
  • Educating the public – no call to action, not lobbying 

4. Lobbying disclosure

  • Fed, States and some municipalities regulate when nonprofits and employees must register as a lobbyist 
    • Bolder Advocacy has resources on state lobbying registration/reporting 
    • Determine state lobbying threshold for nonprofit and employees 
    • Track and report activities to state regulators