An individual may volunteer uncompensated personal services to a party committee without making a contribution. Volunteer activity is not reportable.
Note, however, that if volunteers are paid for their services by someone other than the party committee, the activity is no longer considered volunteering, and the payments result in in-kind contributions to the party committee. Generally, if an individual provides services to a party committee during paid working hours (other than incidental or isolated activity which is discussed in more detail), the employer makes a contribution to the committee.
Volunteer’s living expenses
While volunteering, an individual may pay for normal subsistence expenses (meals and lodging) without making a contribution. These payments are not reportable.
Activities in home, church, community room
Individuals, in the course of volunteering personal services, may use their homes — or the recreation room of the apartment complex where they live — for activities to support a party committee without making a contribution. Volunteers may also use a church or community room for party-support activities as long as the facility is regularly used for noncommercial purposes by members of the community without regard to political affiliation. (A nominal fee paid by the individual for the use of a recreation or community room is not a contribution and is not reportable.)
Food, drink, invitations at home event
Individuals may volunteer to hold fundraising receptions or other types of party-support activities in their homes or in churches or community rooms. An individual may purchase food, beverages and invitations for the event without making a contribution as long as such spending does not exceed $2,000 per calendar year on behalf of all political committees of the same party. (A married couple may together spend up to $4,000 per year.) Any amount spent in excess of $2,000 per person, however, must be reported by the party committee as an in-kind contribution. (Otherwise, the activity is not reportable.) Note that any expenses paid by a nonresident co-host of an activity are considered in-kind contributions to the party committee benefiting from the event.
An employee, stockholder or member of a corporation or labor organization may make occasional, isolated or incidental use of the organization’s facilities for volunteer work on behalf of a party committee (or candidate), subject to the rules and practices of the organization. However, the volunteer may have to reimburse the corporation or labor organization in some cases.
Uncompensated Internet activity
An individual or group of individuals may engage in Internet activity for the purpose of influencing a federal election without making an expenditure or a contribution. The activity must be uncompensated, and the exemption does not include payments for email lists. The individual or group need not own the computer(s) used for the activity and is permitted to pay a nominal fee for the use of another person’s website without the amount paid being considered a contribution.
Unreimbursed travel expenses
The rules described apply only to an individual’s payments for his or her own travel expenses; if an individual uses personal funds to pay the travel expenses of another, an in-kind contribution results.
$2,000 transportation exemption
An individual working for a party committee (including a paid staff member or a volunteer) may voluntarily spend up to $2,000 for unreimbursed transportation expenses on behalf of all political committees of the same party without making a contribution. Payments for transportation expenses that exceed $2,000 per year, however, are considered contributions—unless they are reimbursed by the party committee in a timely manner.
Reimbursed travel expenses
When an individual working on behalf of the party committee pays transportation and subsistence expenses while traveling, no contribution will result if the committee reimburses the individual within the following time limits:
- If the expense was paid with cash or a personal check, within 30 days from the date the expense was incurred.
- If the expense was paid with a credit card, within 60 days of the closing date on the credit card billing statement where the charge first appears.
Outside of these time limits, the payments are in-kind contributions.