Matlin Legal FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
That's a great question! Your 503(c)(3) has so many different advocacy opportunities that we can't list them all in a short FAQ (or even a single workshop!). Most (c)(3)s tend to need to learn about their rights to:
Your organization might have already started engaging in public policy advocacy, and you’re not giving yourself credit! If your organization has ever…
Let’s work together to explore how your organization can use advocacy to make an even greater community impact.
Yes! Your publicly-supported 501(c)(3) is allowed to lobbying (to influence legislation). How much your organization is allowed to lobby depends on the choices your organization has made, the size of your organization’s spending budget, and the lobbying activities your organization engages in. Your 501(c)(3) might be restricted to dedicating 3-5% of your organization’s activities to lobbying, or you might be able to use up to 20% of your budget to lobby!
Chat with Sara to get a rough estimate of your lobbying limit, arrange an initial consultation to explore guidance specific to your organization, or connect about a training tailored to your organization’s advocacy experience.
Yes, your organization is allowed to hold officials accountable (even when they are running for office) as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons and you follow certain guidelines. Sara can help your organization speak out and demand action, without taking unnecessary risks. Get guidance from Sara about crafting strong messaging that’s also legally compliant, or explore a workshop for your team about nonpartisan accountability advocacy.
That’s a crucial first step! You also need to make sure that your organization doesn’t engage in activities or communications to try to influence which candidates win elections. So if you’re pushing officials to make good public policy decisions, building your community’s voice, and engaging with voters and candidates, Sara’s guidance can help you support your causes, not the candidates. Work with Sara to strategize about strong civic engagement and responsible accountability advocacy.
No problem! Matlin Legal is happy to help you figure that out.
You can make an appointment to chat and explore your options. During this first informal conversation, you can share some general information about what you’re looking for, and Sara can share general legal information about organizations like yours.
If you think you might want to share confidential information or you want to receive legal advice tailored to your organization, please schedule an initial consultation to explore an attorney-client relationship. (Please note: Before Sara can officially become your attorney and you can officially become Sara's client, you would need complete a conflicts check, intake process, and signed agreement. For now, please don’t share any confidential information.)
We hope so! Sara can help most California organizations with troubleshooting, triage, and legal advice. Depending on the issue, Sara may be able to help with problem-solving for organizations outside of California. Contact Sara to see if she can jump in with rapid response.
(Please note: Before Sara can officially become your attorney and you can become Sara's client, you would need to complete a conflicts check, intake process, and signed agreement. For now, please don’t share any confidential information.)
Matlin Legal wants to make it easier for nonprofits and funders to use their advocacy rights. Whether you’re seasoned advocacy veterans or just beginning your public policy journey, Sara’s consulting and workshops help you and your team learn and apply the IRS (and CA) rules for your organization. Sara helps 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, private foundations and public foundations make the most of their rights to change the community through:
No. Matlin Legal focuses on what advocacy your organization is allowed to do after you have already incorporated and have your tax-exempt status. Still, if you’re considering forming a nonprofit, and deciding which tax status is right for your advocacy group, Matlin Legal can help you understand your options. Schedule a short introductory consultation with Sara to get a basic overview and explore whether you’d like to bring Sara in for a deeper discussion.
That sounds like a difficult situation! Sara does not represent organizations or individuals in federal, state, or local administrative or court proceedings.
Sara is a licensed attorney in the State of California. Her practice focuses on the IRS rules that impact nonprofits’ advocacy across the country, as well as California nonprofit advocacy rules.
Sorry, but Sara’s license and knowledge don’t extend to state and local rules outside of California. She can often point you to attorneys and written resources that cover those topics.
Yes! Sara enjoys training and guiding groups whose members have a variety backgrounds, tax statuses and levels of nonprofit advocacy experience. She also offers workshops for philanthropy-serving organizations. Contact Sara to discuss how Matlin Legal can support your groups.
¡Sí! Sarita es bilingüe (aunque actualmente su sitio de web no lo es…). Por lo general, los talleres de Matlin Legal en español son gratuitos, igual que el asesoramiento en español. Comuníquense con Sarita, llamándola al 650-394-5194. (También pueden rellenar el formulario en inglés para pedir una cita.)
For each workshop, Matlin Legal provides the following:
If need be, we can make arrangements for the webinar to be hosted on your platform, instead of Matlin Legal’s Zoom platform. Additional services, like customized pre- or post-workshop surveys, can often be provided for an additional fee.
Schedule a conversation to get a workshop on your team’s calendar.
Matlin Legal’s workshop fees are on a sliding scale. See Matlin Legal’s Priorities for factors we consider when determining the workshop cost. We can often offer a "bulk" discount if we schedule more than one workshop for your team. We’re also open to exploring creative fee arrangements where everyone wins, like a workshop/membership exchange. Contact Matlin Legal to discuss your options.
If you postpone or cancel a workshop within 24 hours of the workshop start time, you'll be invoiced for that workshop in the first five days of the next month, regardless of whether the workshop has been rescheduled.
Sara loves customizing workshops to each organization’s interests and needs. But “(c)(3) advocacy do’s and don’ts” is really multiple topics (lobbying, nonpartisan advocacy, elections, advocacy funding…)
Most workshop topics take 60-90 minutes each. Smooshing multiple topics together in one hour often makes participants (and the trainer!) cranky–the topics are rushed, we can’t dig into helpful examples, and we don’t have enough time to address relevant questions. So we’d need to narrow down the workshop topic to something we can tackle in one workshop or schedule additional workshops.
Sara usually needs about 4-6 weeks to plan and customize a workshop. If you need a workshop sooner than that, she may be able to accommodate that request, but she will need to charge a “rush” fee. Contact Sara to explore your options!
Usually, you can pay after the workshop. Once the workshop is scheduled, you'll typically be invoiced by the 5th of the following month after the scheduled date of the workshop. Payment is typically due within 30 days of that invoice. (For example, if we schedule a workshop for October 1, you would typically receive an invoice by November 5, and you would pay that invoice by December 5.) If you schedule multiple workshops, we may need a deposit to confirm commitment to the time we invest to prepare for the workshops.
Please let us know if you need some flexibility around payment (because of cash flow issues, grant funding, etc.). We’d be happy to find an arrangement that works for everyone.
We currently accept checks and ACH payments (preferred).
Please make all checks payable to:
Law Office of Sara Matlin
855 Jefferson Avenue, #1042
Redwood City, CA 94064
Please remit all ACH payments to:
Law Office of Sara Matlin
Bank Name: Tri Counties Bank
Account #: 472061744
Routing #: 121135045
Please let us know if you need some flexibility around timing or form of payment (because of cash flow issues, grant funding, etc.). In addition, we can often be flexible about receiving payment from a third party (such as a funder or government agency). And we may even be open to a swap, like a workshop/membership exchange. Just ask!
Probably not. Generally, Matlin Legal charges hourly for consulting and legal advice, so you would be invoiced for one month’s services in the first five days of the following month. (For example, if we provide four hours of consulting in the first week of October, we would send an invoice by November 5, and you would pay that invoice by December 5.) If we agree to bill your organization on a project basis, we may need a retainer to confirm your organization’s commitment to the project.
If we schedule a workshop, you will usually be billed in the first five days of the following month after the workshop date. However, if you schedule multiple workshops, we may need a deposit to confirm commitment to our investment in preparing for the workshops.
If you postpone or cancel a workshop within 24 hours of the workshop start time, you will be invoiced for that workshop in the first five days of the next month, regardless of whether the workshop has been rescheduled.
It depends on the support we’re offering. We tend to structure our consulting and legal advice costs using hourly billing, but we’re also open to offering billing on a project basis. Contact Matlin Legal to start the conversation.
We typically offer our workshops at a flat fee. However, if you would like to add surveys or similar services to the workshop, that cost would be extra.
Matlin Legal is not a nonprofit, so Sara needs to charge for her services. However, Matlin Legal’s workshop and consulting fees are on a sliding scale. See Matlin Legal’s Priorities for factors we consider when determining our rates. We’re also open to exploring creative fee arrangements where everyone wins, like a workshop/membership exchange.
Para organizaciones que comunican en español: Sarita es bilingüe (aunque su sitio de web actualmente no lo es…). Por lo general, el asesoramiento y los talleres de Matlin Legal en español son gratuitos. Comuníquense con Sarita, llamándola al 650-394-5194 para explorar sus opciones. (También pueden rellenar este formulario en inglés para pedir una cita.)
Schedule one free consultation with Sara (per organization)