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Re: Robin Advertising Policy

Harry Able asks
In a message dated 2/4/99 8:11:57 AM Eastern Standard Time, Giboshiman@aol.com
<<Think about the IRS
 Revenue Rulings and Interpretations regarding benefits to members of 501(c)
 organizations, the relationship of those benefits to the purpose of 501(c)
 organizations, >>
Can you elaborate on these rulings and interprietations, please??

Sure, Harry.

501(c) organizations fall into the "charitable" and "educational" categories.
If a 501(c) organization were to provide benefits, that, in this case, could
be called  "free advertising", to only certain members, this would have to be
in furtherance of the purpose of a 501(c) organization and resulting from
something else they have contributed to the organization, for example
volunteer time in an endeavor that benefited the society as a whole. 

As in this case they would be benifiting from a commercial act that is not in
furtherance of the eductaional or charitable purpose of 501(c) organizations.
You will note that Universities generally, also have prohibition's on
advertising on their internet sites.

Some members may remember that this policy was in effect on the old "honza"
robin for these same reasons.  In fact, the WNYHS was asked to run its seed
auction off-line to prevent any potential 501(c) problem. A similar issue
arose with the AHemerocallisS Robin after they held an auction and also some
members wanted to have a "swap" group.  AHemerocallisS counsel William White
contacted IRS and received an "oral" opinion that both were likely to be in
violation and the AHemeroS has also adopted a similar policy.

Not to start a new discussion but this also is a concern for a local society,
such as the Potomac Hosta Club which has 501(c) status, when it is deciding
how to spend money on its members.  This has to be done carefully to avoid IRS
"pulling" 501(c) status. 

The published IRS rulings for the past approx. 15 years can be found on-line
if you have access to Lexus or WestLaw, at a local library.  You have to wade
through them as there are many more charitable rulings relating to hospitals
than those that relate to this subject.

Thanks for asking!
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