Like most grassroots groups, we began and have grown organically in response to a need to “promote social well-being”, which is what a 501c4 does. Coming out of the 2016 election we felt really far apart, that social isolation was having negative and unequal impacts, and we didn’t see how we’d improve access to healthcare, education, housing affordability, etc, without coming together. Just as before, Stronger NC remains an issues-based organization for advocacy, activism and community building.
There are both advantages and disadvantages of becoming a non-profit. 501c4 is a tax code that does not require us to file “income tax” so that any fundraising we do stays in our community to do the most good. Donations to Stronger NC are not tax deductible, but if we became a 501c3 to be tax deductible, we’d be very limited in doing the issues-based political advocacy we do best. We have never endorsed or fundraised for specific candidates as is prohibited by non-profit rules, but our focus has always been on constituents/people, educating and empowering on issues that affect voters, and advocating for a government that represents all people. Our status also requires us to have a formal leadership board, and file receipts and documents, which is all new for us.
It is a lot of work. But it lends us credibility and allows us to do more good with the most people in NC. It also offers us a degree of separation and protection. As grassroots groups grow in importance and efficacy, we knew we might become targets for groups who are happy with the status quo, as we saw last week with an Indivisible group. Our board is 100% volunteer, with other jobs and families, and so it’s important that we have at least some legal separation from those who would silence us. Most importantly, our non-partisan, non-profit status opens doors for us as a community and coalition building organization.
Achieving non-profit status was one of our goals we announced at the beginning of this year, so we wanted to share the good news with all of you. This was an important step for us towards achieving our other goals this year, from being a coalition partner for the NC NAACP’s 14 point plan, to working on a 2018 Voters Guide. As with everything we do, we are stronger together so thanks for being here with us!