IMPORTANT: Election Season Reminders for Chapters

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It’s fall, which means it’s the season for receiving tons of important reminders as the new school year begins: don’t get locked out of your dorm room, don’t forget to check the syllabus, don’t forget to register for our upcoming National Conference (that one will be fun, we promise!).

But, we need to remind you of one more important topic this season: election and campaign guidance for chapter members of non-profit organizations.

Active Minds Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As such, we are Federally tax exempt, which means that we do not have to pay taxes on our revenue. This translates into more money to support efforts to reduce stigma, raise awareness and change the conversation about mental health.

In exchange for our tax exempt status, we must abide by certain rules, including acting in a non-partisan manner at all times. The IRS considers all Active Minds chapters and chapter members—that’s you!–as volunteers of Active Minds, and therefore, requires us and you to uphold certain standards around political campaigning as official representatives of Active Minds.

In a nutshell, the IRS rules require Active Minds chapters, chapter members and advisers to keep their Active Minds activities completely separate from any politically campaigning you may do for any candidate for elected office: the President, a member of Congress, governor, mayor or even a local school board member.

So, as you continue your vital work on campus this semester, here are some quick tips and reminders of things you can do to support our compliance with those standards and our efforts to continue to provide new, engaging and exciting ways to impact mental health on more than 400 campuses across the globe.

What This Means for Chapters

Do Not:

  • Do not use your Active Minds chapter social media accounts to share political campaign information or viewpoints, show support for a candidate or invite people to a political campaign event.
  • Do not put up political campaign posters or engage in political campaign discussions in your Active Minds office, meeting or event space.
  • Do not invite political candidates to make campaign speeches at Active Minds events.
  • Do not wear Active Minds gear if you are engaged in any political campaign activity, such as canvassing door-to-door for a candidate for office.

This will ensure that people understand that you are talking to them as an individual and not as a representative of Active Minds.

What You Can Do:

  • Do wear Active Minds gear to any official Active Minds event.
  • Do use your personal email and social media accounts to correspond with political campaigns as a private citizen.
  • Do use your non-Active Minds related time to volunteer for a political campaign if you choose.
  • Do be clear that your personal political views and actions do not represent Active Minds.

Following these basic tips will ensure that people you’re talking to understand that your personal views and opinions about candidates, issues and campaigns are not necessarily the views of your chapter or Active Minds Inc.
Thank you for helping us make sure we’re complying with the standards and that we continue to provide the services and programs you’ve come to know and love. If you’re not sure about any of these points or want to check in to make sure that what you are doing is permissible, please don’t hesitate to email us at chapters@activeminds.org.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources:

  • IRS Guidance: https://www.irs.gov/uac/election-year-activities-and-the-prohibition-on-political-campaign-intervention-for-section-501-c-3-organizations
  •  www.nonprofitvote.org