Well, sort of. The long answer is more complex than you might expect and private foundations who want to enter this arena must do so with care.  The role you and your grantees can play in issues that might have heightened public attention in an election year lies in the nuanced IRS definitions of advocacy vs. lobbying. In understanding what you can and can’t do it is important to keep in mind that advocacy and lobbying are not synonymous.

Your advocacy capabilities are directly impacted by your tax status. Most private family foundations and public charities fall under the large tax-exempt 501(c)(3) umbrella.  All 501(c)(3)  organizations may not participate in partisan politics in any way, including support of or opposition for any candidate, but  are fully within the law conducting your own advocacy efforts, or supporting advocacy efforts by your grantees. Advocacy can include research on issues important to your mission, community organizing, public awareness building about issues, and even talking with a legislator about an issue or about the work of one of your grantees. What you cannot do is talk about specific legislation or candidates.

Read the full article about family foundations and elections at National Center for Family Philanthropy.