Frequently Asked Questions

In the process of creating Faith in Minnesota, people have asked a lot of good questions. We are all learning and expanding our political imaginations while taking on this endeavor. If you have questions, please share them, and as we continue moving forward, join the conversation. We all have to shape this new effort together! Have additional questions? Contact us at faith_in_minnesota@faithinmn.org


WHAT IS FAITH IN MINNESOTA?

Faith in Minnesota is a 501c4 social welfare organization established by ISAIAH to extend the capacities available to people of faith in Minnesota who are united for racial, economic, and social justice.


WHY DO WE NEED A SEPARATE ORGANIZATION FROM ISAIAH?

ISAIAH (like its members congregations) is a 501(c)(3) public charity. 

501(c)(3) organizations are required to devote their resources to educational, religious and/or other charitable activities and they are strictly forbidden from engaging in any political activity on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for political office.

A 501(c)(3) may, however, conduct various nonpartisan election-related activities.

It may:

  • engage in limited lobbying, including ballot-measure advocacy;
  • conduct public education and training sessions about participation in the political process;
  • educate candidates on public issues;
  • canvass the public on issues;
  • sponsor candidate debates (with certain restrictions);
  • conduct nonpartisan get-out-the-vote activities, voter registration, and education drives; and
  • establish a 501(c)(4).

Contributions to a 501(c)(3) are deductible from a donor’s federal income tax and are not subject to federal gift tax.

Faith in Minnesota is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that is allowed to pursue educational, lobbying, and some limited political activities (“social welfare” is defined as promoting social improvement and civic betterment).

Education and lobbying on social and economic issues qualify as social welfare activities, but participation in partisan political campaigns does not.

No limit exists on the amount of lobbying a 501(c)(4) may conduct, including working for the passage or defeat of ballot measures.

Unlike ISAIAH, Faith in Minnesota may carry out political activities without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status as long as it is engaged primarily in non-electoral activities that promote social welfare.

It may:

  • engage in all of the lobbying and advocacy activities permitted for a 501(c)(3), but without limit;
  • endorse candidates and publicize its endorsements;
  • publically distribute voter guides and other communications that may support or
  • oppose candidates (with certain restrictions);

Contributions to any 501(c)(4) are not tax-deductible. Source: Alliance for Justice

 


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAITH IN MINNESOTA AND ISAIAH?

By law, Faith in Minnesota and ISAIAH MUST be separate organizations.

ISAIAH is a 501(c)(3) public charity nonprofit (as are the congregations that make up ISAIAH’s membership). Under current IRS rules, that means that contributions to ISAIAH can be claimed as deductions on federal taxes. In exchange, 501c3 organizations cannot act in any way that appears to endorse one candidate or political party.

A 501(c)(4) social welfare organization like Faith in Minnesota is also a nonprofit organization. However, unlike a 501(c)(3) organization, contributions to 501(c)(4)s are not tax deductible. 501(c)(4) organizations may conduct unlimited lobbying. In addition, they may engage in electoral political campaign work, but only as a secondary activity.

ISAIAH’s governing members are 501(c)(3) Christian and Muslim congregations. Faith in Minnesota is made up of individuals. Congregations are not being asked to join Faith in Minnesota.


WHO PAYS FOR FAITH IN MINNESOTA?

Faith in Minnesota will be funded by its individual members and by foundations and other entities that have the latitude to contribute to 501(c)(4) organizations.

No churches will be asked to fund Faith in Minnesota.  501(c)(3) funds cannot be used to pay for 501(c)(4) activities.

No contribution to ISAIAH (from either donors or foundations) can be used to pay for Faith in Minnesota.

 


WHO LEADS FAITH IN MINNESOTA?

Faith in Minnesota has its own Board of Directors and its own Bylaws. The board was appointed by the ISAIAH Board of Directors. And the ISAIAH Board of Directors has the power to disband the Faith in Minnesota board at any time.

Faith in Minnesota has no staff of its own. Instead, Faith in Minnesota has established a resource sharing agreement by which it pays ISAIAH to “rent” staff.

 


IS THERE A SEPARATE OFFICE? WHAT ABOUT OTHER RESOURCES?

As with staff, there is no separate Faith in Minnesota office or infrastructure.

Instead, Faith in Minnesota must lease office space, materials, equipment and infrastructure from ISAIAH at the fair market rate.


THIS SOUNDS REALLY COMPLICATED!

It’s true. It is really complicated. However, the IRS makes provisions for a 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations to coexist in the manner outlined above, and many other organizations have multiple entities operating under the same umbrella.

In addition, we are working with the one of Minnesota’s top legal firms and a top Certified Public Accounting firm locally to set up Faith in Minnesota, and to ensure that we are fully compliant with the law.

 


WHY AM I BEING ASKED TO OPT IN TO RECEIVE COMMUNICATIONS?

As a separate organization, Faith in Minnesota must cultivate its own database of members and contacts. 

It cannot use ISAIAH’s list of members without paying the fair market rate for that information.

We have rented ISAIAH’s lists for the purpose of an initial outreach to ISAIAH leaders because we believe that many individuals involved with ISAIAH will want to hear more about how Faith in Minnesota will expand our capacity to build power in the state.

If you do not opt in, you will continue to hear from ISAIAH but you will not receive communications from Faith in Minnesota


IS THIS A PARTISAN EFFORT?

Faith in Minnesota is NOT a partisan organization. The expanded capacities will be used to hold decision makers accountable and to support decision makers from any major political party, as long as those decision makers share our values and our policy priorities.

Faith in Minnesota is not related to the work of any political party at the state or federal level. In fact, Faith in Minnesota was created because people of faith feel, increasingly, that neither the Democratic nor the Republican party serve our interests adequately.