Rules of the Game: Making “The Connection” | 2024 Edition - Alliance for Justice

Rules of the Game: Making “The Connection” | 2024 Edition


Natalie Ossenfort, Sarah Efthymiou, and Susan Finkle-Sourlis


501(c)(4) Advocacy, Administrative Agencies, Affiliated Organizations, Community Organizing, Lobbying

On this episode, we discuss “The Connection”, Bolder Advocacy’s go-to guide on how to create and operate 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and political organizations. In 2024, we release our 5th edition of “The Connection” and include several important updates your nonprofit needs to know about as we move into a contentious election season. If your nonprofit has questions about how to safely operate affiliated organizations or how to boost civic engagement in coalition with organizations that have a different tax-exempt status than your own, “The Connection” has the answers.

Our Attorneys for This Episode:

Natalie Roetzel Ossenfort Sarah Efthymiou Susan Finkle-Sourlis

About This Episode:

  • “The Connection” is one of Bolder Advocacy’s core advocacy resources.
    • It pairs well with:
      • “Being a Player” (guide to lobbying regulations for advocacy charities)
      • “The Rules of the Game” (guide to election-related activities for 501(c)(3)s)
    • This is the go-to resource for organizations on how they can amplify their impact and build grassroots power by utilizing multiple types of tax-exempt entities to address social problems and pursue policy change.
    • It discusses the best practices you need to know about when working with 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and PACs.
    • The Connection was first published in 1988 and is primarily authored by Holly Schadler at Trister, Ross, Schadler, and Gold (with contributions from several of her teammates and allies in the field).
    • 5th Edition releasing end of February or early March 2024.
  • What can you find in The Connection?  
    • Details on several different types of tax-exempt organizations and the advocacy activities they can engage in.
    • The rules 501(c)(4)s need to know when lobbying and engaging in political activities.
    • Information on how to create and operate affiliated c3 and c4 organizations (including a step-by-step overview of c4 formation procedures).
    • The rules governing PACs (including state PACs federal PACs and 527s).
    • Sample cost sharing agreement, sample 501(c)(3) public charity to 501(c)(4) grant agreement, information on the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and more!
  • What’s new in the 5th Edition?
    • Information on new FEC disclaimer requirements for “internet public communications.”
    • Social media guidance for affiliated 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations.
    • Details on a recent FEC ruling impacting the use of disclaimers for text messaging.
    • Requirements for Super PACs and hybrid PACs (also known as Carey Committees).
  • The Connection also contains several concrete examples to illustrate how the rules apply in real-world scenarios (utilizing fictional tax-exempt organizations, of course).
    • These examples answer questions like:
      • What happens when a 501(c)(3) wants to make a grant to its affiliated 501(c)(4) for an educational research project?
      • What happens when a 501(c)(3) conducts a nonpartisan voter registration drive and wants its affiliated 501(c)(4) to have access to the list of registered voters? You’ll find out in “The Connection” that it can’t just give the list to its affiliated 501(c)(4) at no charge, but it could in some instances (when allowed under state law) sell its list at fair market value via an arms-length transaction.
      • And, what happens when a (c)(4) publishes a monthly magazine on mission-related issues and then, in one edition of the magazine, decides to include an article about its candidate endorsements?
  • There are examples of required disclaimers for independent expenditures and electioneering communications too.
    • Brand new FEC regulations, published in January of this year, clarify what types of communications fall within the definition of “internet public communications” and what types of disclaimers are required when these communications expressly advocate for the election or defeat of federal candidates.
    • The latest edition of The Connection addresses how the law requires these disclaimers to be adapted for different communication formats. Whether it’s a communication including text and graphics, a video, or an audio-only statement, disclaimer requirements vary.
    • As such, The Connection is not only good for frontline nonprofit advocates, but for Communications, HR, and Accounting staff too!


  • The Connection (Strategies for Creating and Operating 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and Political Organizations)
  • Being a Player (A Guide to the IRS Lobbying Regulations for Advocacy Charities)
  • The Rules of the Game (A Guide to Election-Related Activities for 501(c)(3) Organizations)