Nonprofits are often closest to community problems, with deep expertise that should be an integral part of the policymaking process. Unfortunately, due to complex regulations, registration and reporting requirements, only 3% of nonprofits lobby. This leaves the overwhelming majority of nonprofits, and their communities’ voices, out of the legislative process. Policymakers should want to hear from nonprofits, so they can best understand their communities’ challenges, innovations, and solutions from directly-affected people.
The A Place at the Table campaign seeks to expand the range of voices heard by legislators through nonprofits. Despite having a legal and constitutional right to lobby, many under-resourced organizations choose not to engage in permissible advocacy because they fear they are ill equipped to handle the administrative burden that comes with lobbying rules, regulations, reporting, and penalties. A Place at the Table would raise New York’s lobbying expenditure threshold for 501(c)(3) not-for-profits required to register as a lobbyist from $5,000 to $10,000.
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What Does the Data Tell Us?
Based on recent lobbying filing data, 99% of lobbying activity expenditures would still be reported with a $10,000 threshold. A Place at the Table would not reduce important transparency, but would create more access for grassroots nonprofits to advocate. The threshold has not been raised since 2006, when it increased from $2,000 to $5,000. Read more in Nonprofit New York’s Policy Brief: NYS Lobbying Law (May 2022).