TABLE OF CONTENTS
History of the Coalition……………………………………………………………………………………………………………2
Who We Are/What We Do…………………………………………………………………………………………………………3
Coalition Funding & Staffing……………………………………………………………………….………….……………….….4
Levels of Engagement………………………………………………………………………………….…………………………4
Members & Allies……………….…………………………………………………………….…………………….………………4
Issue Specific Committees…………………………………………………….………………………………….……………….8
Outreach, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Committee……………………………………………………………………8
Choosing Campaigns to Support…………………………..…………………………………………….………………………9
Addressing Conflicting Approaches………………..…………..…………………………………………..……………………11
Decision Making During Session……………………….………………….……………………….……………………………11
Standard Operating Procedure for Communications & Events……………………………….………………………………12
Addendum A: Coalition 501(c)(3) Status…………………………………………………………………..…………….………13
History of the Coalition
In the fall of 2010 a small cadre of environmental organizations began the Wind Works for Maryland collaboration to bring offshore wind energy to Maryland. The offshore wind campaign illustrated a bold vision for a cleaner and healthier energy future for Maryland. It inspired and energized thousands of Marylanders and captured the national spotlight as hundreds of environmental, health, labor, business, faith and student groups, and thousands of ordinary Marylander voters, joined together to push lawmakers in Annapolis to make offshore wind power a reality. In 2013 the General Assembly passed the Offshore Wind Energy Act and then-Governor O’Malley signed it into law.
The offshore wind campaign also galvanized and united the organizations involved, leading to the formation of the Maryland Climate Coalition. Comprised of national, regional, state, and local advocacy organizations, the Coalition expressed its commitment to advancing policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) serves as the fiscal sponsor and staffing agent for the Maryland Climate Coalition.
Over the years, the Coalition grew to twenty-one members, including environmental, faith, health, labor, and civic organizations leveraging their combined policy, legal and scientific expertise and grassroots organizing strength to advance equitable clean energy and climate policies in Maryland. Through our collaboration, the Coalition has grown the climate advocacy movement and secured numerous climate and clean energy victories.
Durings its entire existence, the Coalition’s budget for staffing, research, and campaigns came from one funder, the Town Creek Foundation. In 2019, Town Creek closed its doors and the Coalition found itself at a crossroads. At this moment in time, we are redefining who “we” are as a movement and how we operate as a convener in this space. In particular, we seek to address the following:
- Re-envision and broaden Maryland’s climate movement to be one that simultaneously addresses climate disruption and economic and social inequality, centering equity and quality jobs within environmental proposals.
- Develop and enact policies at state and local levels that shift Maryland’s trajectory on economic development, social equity, and climate action, and serve to facilitate the unification of a broader and more powerful base that will fuel more ambitious and meaningful change.
To accomplish these goals, in the second half of 2019, the Coalition chose to:
- Practice “liberated gatekeeping,” promoting greater transparency about our work and opening our doors to any interested organizations and advocates that seek to inform what a reconstituted climate table looks like, how it functions, and what it prioritizes — and add to our shared strength.
- Begin the ambitious process of reaching out to groups that we hope to meaningfully collaborate with.
- Create interim, open steering committees operating by general consensus to guide us through our transitions related to a revised governance and policy goals and plans.
- Engage in developing “living” principles for climate action that guide how we inform our work together and the policies we hope to enact in Maryland. We offer them as a sign of our intentions and recognize we have much work to do in order to embody these intentions as a group.
- Unite our growing new table behind a shared legislative agenda for 2020’s Maryland General Assembly session that speak to our principles and our common understanding of our long term goals, which will be further fleshed out in 2020.
We recognize that our network is not yet representative of those most impacted by climate and environmental injustice. As of this writing (Dec. 2019) we have already evolved to a new iteration of the Climate Coalition. Hopefully in six more months’ time, through continued evolution, we will look and function much differently, with all the attendant rewards and growing pains that entails.
Recognizing the above, this Coalition Framework is valid for 6 months, from January 1, 2020 to July 1, 2020. Its content represents where we as a table are as of the end of 2019. We recognize it will need to be revised as we continue the rapid growth trajectory we seek in order to manifest who we hope to be and what we hope to accomplish.
Specifically, by June 2020, the Steering Committee will determine whether we can continue as a Coalition and, if so, we will revise the Framework as needed with feedback from existing and new potential Coalition partners incorporated to ensure alignment to our strategic direction.
Who We Are/What We Do
- The Maryland Climate Coalition creates a “common table” for the climate advocacy community (both volunteers and professionals) by promoting collaboration, information sharing, and openness among groups
- We increase efficiency and avoid duplication of efforts and develop capacity that no one organization can come to on its own.
- We provide an educational, conversational, and strategic planning space where climate leaders and those who are experiencing frontline effects from climate change can learn, deliberate, and grow together towards shared long-term goals and shorter-term benchmarks to achieve them
- The Coalition discusses, votes on, and advocates for our shared campaign priorities
- We add value to our members through advocacy and policy support, communications assistance, and information sharing and networking opportunities. In return, we leverage the strength and power of our members as a collective voice to inform and educate decision makers throughout the state.
Coalition Funding & Staffing
The Coalition staffing support has been provided on a part-time basis since 2016 through independent consultant Dan Furmansky, who is on contract with the Coalition’s fiscal agent. Dan is a social justice advocate who helps progressive non-profits move forward on issues through coalition and movement building; campaign management, communications and writing support; strategic planning and facilitation; organizational capacity building; and legislative advocacy. For the past 20 years, he has focused on addressing global and domestic human rights issues, economic and environmental justice, animal welfare, fair courts, and food system reforms. As a consultant, he has convened and managed several coalitions and supported successful policy efforts. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional capacity to carry out our work comes from the staff and volunteers of organizations that agree to take on critical roles.
The Coalition has one active grant from the Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation to support our work in 2020. The grant is administered by our fiscal agent. Jennifer Mihills, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Regional Center of the National Wildlife Federation, is the key contact. For questions about our grant or feedback related to our Coordinator, Jen may be reached at MihillsJ@nwf.org
Additional resources come from membership dues.
Levels of Engagement: Members & Allies
The Coalition will be made up of members that are local, state, regional, and national non-governmental organizations committed to a net zero emissions future. Membership is open to any organization that is aligned with our principles, demonstrates a commitment to take action, and abides by our governance. Each membership organization gets one vote.
Individuals that are not affiliated with an organization but who want to sit at the Coalition table and play an active role in advancing our priorities are also welcome to participate as allies and shape our conversations and trajectory, but they do not get a formal vote on Coalition matters. Allies may be community members, community leaders, or people who have directly experienced the problem. Organizations that are not formal Coalition members but who want to have a representative/s sit at the Coalition table and play an active role in advancing our priorities are welcome to participate as Allies and shape our conversations. They do not receive a vote.
In order to support the Coalition’s continued functioning, especially its staffing, Members are asked to pay annual dues. Dues will be requested in January and due by March. Dues will be calculated based on 0.15% of an organization’s budget.
An organization with a larger geographic scope may count its budget as only its Maryland members. Some Coalition participants with scarce funds have volunteers or specific experiences that add value to the Coalition and allow the organization to provide a resource that is valuable to the Coalition as a whole. Upon request, the Steering Committee will evaluate whether, because of demonstrable financial constraints or an organizational mission that is much larger than just climate issues, the dues paid by an organization may be adjusted.
The Coalition, as a whole, meets as needed, via conference calls/video chats or in-person meetings. An annual session debrief meeting and planning meeting will be convened to guide the work and plans of the Coalition. Additionally, a listserv is available to facilitate Coalition interaction. Much of the work of the Coalition occurs through working groups.
Coalition Members agree to provide input on refining overall objectives and strategy goals, actively contribute to at least one of the campaigns prioritized by the Coalition, and be listed in general Coalition materials as a Coalition Member.
The Coalition is guided by a Steering Committee made up of organizational representatives and At-Large Members. The Steering Committee will:
- Pay attention to Coalition developments
- Advise the fiscal agent on the hiring, management, and performance of contractual support, including consultant providing Coalition Coordinator responsibilities.
- Guide fundraising efforts for the Coalition and review and approve Coalition budget, based on the approved goals/work plans, and any budgetary changes.
- Initiate changes to Coalition governance policies/framework document.
- Prioritize the planning for the achievement of our overarching goals—specifically the development of a long-term plan to achieve net zero emissions and the expansion of our table with an equity lens—and work with Coalition staff to ensure that the timeline for achieving these goals is implemented.
- Work to resolve matters of conflict and advance key questions that cannot be resolved by Committees.
- Work to solicit and secure dues from member organizations
- Play an active role in at least one priority effort of the Coalition
An individual should seek to become, or consent to be, a Steering Committee member only if they are prepared to devote the attention and effort necessary to fulfill the substantial responsibilities involved.
The Steering Committee will be no larger than 15 members.
The Steering Committee is committed to inclusive and equitable representation and shall reserve Steering Committee seats for organizations (1) that help us realize diversity that reflects the demographics of the state (2) whose priorities are informed by the interests and voices of front-line communities most impacted by environmental injustice (3) who comprise a large membership base with representative, local/grassroots constituencies* and/or (4) who enable us to promote a multi-generational movement.
*Members are defined as individuals who pay dues or those who have taken concrete online or offline action on behalf of an organization over the past 12 months.
A seat on the Steering Committee will be reserved for the organization serving as the Coalition fiscal agent. Membership-based organizations may be prioritized for Steering Committee seats. Any seat on the Steering Committee given to an organization that is not a membership organization may be granted at the discretion of the Steering Committee in order to accomplish the Coalition goals and objectives of equity, inclusivity, or diversity. Specifically, a seat on the Steering Committee will be reserved for:
- At least one youth/student member
- At least two members of vulnerable and/or poor communities, including individuals from both urban centers and rural areas
The Steering Committee must work in good faith to solicit involvement from these communities by promoting this volunteer opportunity widely and engaging in direct outreach.
Any coalition member organization can apply for a seat on the Steering Committee. Applications will be solicited proactively and the process will be made transparent to the full Coalition. If more than 12 candidates apply, the steering committee will consider the goals of broad representation, equity, diversity and inclusion and recommend a slate to the full Coalition that will best achieve those goals. Where consensus is not reached by the Steering Committee to approve the slate, a vote of at least 3/4 of the Steering Committee may advance the slate.
The Coalition will have the opportunity to approve the slate or vote for candidates who are not on the recommended slate. If a candidate not on the Steering Committee’s recommended slate receives more votes than a candidate on the recommended slate, then the Coalition’s will prevails and the top 12 candidates receiving votes will be elevated to the Steering Committee.
Steering Committee terms will begin in January 2020. The Steering Committee will revisit this document/our governance in June 2020 to determine what needs to be revised and to establish formal term limits for the Steering Committee.
The Coalition Coordinator will make notes available to the full Coalition from Steering Committee discussions.
The Steering Committee will meet, on average, monthly by phone. In the event that a Steering Committee member is unable to attend a meeting or cast a vote, a proxy can be designated to act on their behalf. If a Steering Committee member is absent from three consecutive meetings without notification, and does not send a proxy from their organization, the Steering Committee member’s resignation shall be deemed to have been tendered and accepted.
The Steering Committee will be responsible for ensuring each committee has a designated lead. It will also be responsible for implementation of the overall campaign goals, setting specific goals and/or “markers of success” and providing the strategic direction to achieve these goals. The Steering Committee sets campaign goals and makes hiring decisions operating on consensus. If disagreements cannot be resolved by consensus, defined as supported by a majority and others can live with the decision, then a quorum of the Committee will be present (1 more than half of the Committee) and a voting supermajority of the Steering Committee present (10 of 12, 9 of 11, or 8 of 10, 7 of 9, 6 of 8, 5 of 7) will determine the resolution.
Understanding that not all organizations and individuals will want or be able to play an active role in the Coalition, but that they offer critical perspectives that will inform our work, the Coalition will establish an Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is comprised of individuals and organizational representatives that lack capacity to engage deeply with the campaigns but would like to lend their voice and strategic guidance to the effort. Advisory Committee Members agree to (1) subscribe to the principles the campaign (2) be listed as an Advisor to the Coalition (3) provide meaningful feedback and guidance on goals, objectives, and strategies, understanding that Advisors may focus their feedback on specific issue areas (4) when appropriate, serve as spokespersons for key efforts of interest with the media and legislators.
Advisors might include, but are not limited to, renewable energy companies, frontline communities, public health professionals, climate scientists, consumer rights advocates, land use professionals, transportation and housing advocates, agriculture advocates, and labor representatives. The Coalition may gather advisors together according to issue area, as needed, to advance certain conversations.
Advisors will be invited to join the email list and phone calls but they are not expected to pay attention to the regular activities of the Coalition. Our work is to meet communities where they are.
The Policy Committee develops long-term and short-term goals. The Coalition works with the aim of ensuring that bill language drafted and/or supported meets our principles. Decisions we make should be made not from a place of preference, which can be unproductive and can harm relationships, but instead based on principles.
Members at our table come to consensus on bottom lines regarding the key policy provisions that must remain in the bill, and when the removal of policy provisions from legislation may warrant groups outright choosing to oppose the legislation they once supported. Consensus is defined as the majority supports and others can live with it.
During the legislative session, the Coalition’s policy working group will meet weekly through conference calls. During the rest of the year, the policy team meets, on average, semi-monthly, as needed, to support the Coalition’s priority campaign goals. Calls are Wednesdays at 9AM. Notes will be made available for all calls.
Our time together working on policies is focused on strategizing on policy priorities and sharing information on other bills and policies of interest. Anyone may add an item for discussion to the agenda.
Coalition provides staffing coordination support in terms of convening policy conversations, bill tracking, note-taking, and follow-up with issue leads. Coalition provides limited staffing coordination in terms of communications support.
We are only as strong as the united voice of our Coalition around our shared principles. In that respect, organizations at the table will ideally promote our priority policies with their members, with the understanding that organizations may work on some policies more vigorously than others. Organization may choose to not actively support a policy, or to support it with amendments deemed not harmful to the legislation, though they agree to make suggested amendments available to the Coalition prior to the hearing.
Organizations at the table, whether they are members or not, agree not to oppose priority legislation or work to sabotage it, unless it is in accordance with a discussion around bottom lines, as referenced above.
Issue Specific Committees
The Coalition will identify a lead or leads for priority issues who will work to (1) convene interested Coalition members around the issue and build a bridge with advocates working on the issue outside the Coalition (2) play a role in drafting or informing the legislative language to ensure the Coalition’s principles are reflected (3) keep the Coalition as a whole aware of opportunities to amplify their support through direct lobbying, grassroots lobbying, and communications.
The Coalition offers a resource for our groups to coordinate our outreach on shared campaigns and Coalition members are encouraged to work together to minimize duplication and maximize impact. As always with the Climate Coalition, individual organizations are free to do their own grassroots outreach and to issue their own communications on the Coalition’s priority issues, using the unique voice of the organization in question, and its own messengers.
Individual organizations will make a good faith effort to keep the Coalition abreast of their communications and grassroots activities, as groups may be engaged in outreach of their own as well as in concert with other organizations.
The Communications Committee works to amplify the priorities of the Coalition and craft collective messaging strategies.
Outreach, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Committee
The Maryland Climate Coalition is committed to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice so that everyone can realize and enjoy a healthy and prosperous world. We value and celebrate differences in ethnicity, family or marital status, age, gender identity or expression, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make our Coalition membership vibrant and diverse.
In an ongoing effort to more fully accomplish our mission and work towards equity in all we do, we will build and integrate our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice into our vision, organizational structure, steering committee, policy goals, strategies, and tactics.
As part of this work, the Coalition will establish a Committee to develop and execute a plan for outreach and consider how a model of collaborative governance, where we work with community organizations on every initiative we undertake, might be employed in our efforts. The Committee will be tasked with making recommendations as to how we integrate DEIJ work into the Coalition, how well our policies are speaking to these values, and perform ongoing evaluations of our efforts and choices. The committee must be representative of the Coalition itself and must comprise representatives of every other Coalition committee, including the Steering Committee.
Choosing Campaigns to Support
The Coalition will choose a priority agenda prior to the legislative session. The chosen campaigns will be promoted through the Coalition’s public communications as a critical aspect of climate action for Maryland. The process includes:
- General consensus among coalition organizations that the campaign is an appropriate and meaningful approach to achieving our strategic goals
- A significant number of Coalition organizations will actively work to support the campaign
- Some Coalition organizations will actively work on the legislation in some of the following ways: crafting legislative strategy, recruiting bill sponsors and cosponsors, educating members of the General Assembly on the issue, recruiting grasstops/experts to testify on the bill, whipping votes, determining framing for the campaign and crafting an earned media strategy to cultivate a public narrative in support of the bill
- Coalition Members and Allies sitting at our table must refrain from disparaging a priority proposal in public or with decision-makers
- Proposed changes to the structure/content/language of priority proposals must be made in good faith by being presented to the Policy Working Group for group discussion prior to being presented to legislators
- For each policy, prior to a bill hearing, the Policy Working Group must come to consensus on bottom lines for the legislation, including (1) what are the most important provisions for us to fight for in the proposal (2) what provisions, if removed or substantially modified or added, may warrant an organization taking a position of neutrality or opposition to legislation. Consensus is defined as the majority supports and others can live with.
The Coalition may choose to support other policies or pieces of legislation as a whole, track them closely and discuss them on Policy Calls, circulate sign-on letters, etc., but they will not be counted as part of our priority package of bills.
The Policy Committee will strive for consensus and use straw polls in decision making around priority campaigns. Whereby consensus (defined as the majority supports and others can live with) cannot be achieved, despite robust efforts to do so, but there is strong majority support for a proposal, a vote will be taken and each organizational member will have one “vote” during the process. Each member organization will affirm or disaffirm support for potential priority campaigns. A member organization who has no objection but may not be supporting a bill may abstain on the condition that it agrees to refrain from specifically disparaging Coalition priorities once they are formalized. The will of a supermajority of the policy committee prevails, i.e. ¾ is required to take up the campaign in question.
The same process will be followed for achieving bottom lines or evaluating amendments, etc. Votes should, where possible, take place during Policy calls, but if an organization has not sent a representative to the call, their vote or wishes may be solicited in advance of the call (by phone or email, with no less than 24 hours provided for a response) and will be conveyed to the Coalition. Decisions will be clearly documented in Coalition notes and not revisited unless there is a change in the lay of the land. Notes will be kept confidential within the Coalition.
When choosing priority policies, the Coalition will consider the following questions:
- How well does this align with our principles overall?
- What is the level of impact on public health?
- How much does this policy remedy set/adjust/improve a framework that can be built upon for the future?
- What are the race and equity impacts/implications of this campaign?
- Does this further a goal in our long-term plan for net negative emissions?
- How many groups will be actively working on this? What is the breadth of interest among MDCC groups who will dedicate resources to work on this proposal? What is the scale of resources/firepower that coalition organizations as a whole are bringing to this effort?
- What is the level of diversity of groups working on this campaign? Do the demographics of the groups reflect the Coalition’s commitment to environmental equity and social justice? Does the campaign include representation from low-income, social justice and organizations of color supporters?
- Do they more closely reflect the communities and state we serve? Has the Coalition previously taken a position in support of this proposal?
- Will this broaden engagement in the Coalition?
- Is this a logical next issue for MDCC to take on in a collective effort?
- Is the policy proposal fully developed and how flexible is the proposal development process in terms of giving organizations a place at the table?
- How soon can we achieve this goal?
- What is the level of opposition to this proposal?
- Does this have resonance with the grassroots and public and media?
- Does this have support of the executive branch? (and/or what indicators do you have that they would support?)
- Does this have the support of legislative leadership and committee leadership? (and/or what indicators do you have that they would support?)
Addressing Conflicting Approaches
The principles are the Coalition’s governing and guiding document throughout our work, including during Session. Provided the language is coming from legislators, issue leads have a responsibility to solicit feedback from the Coalition regarding bill language prior to submitting the language for bill introduction, and provide up to a week for responses. If a Coalition member has significant disagreement with bill language for a Coalition priority, they have an obligation to discuss the issue within the Issue lead and the policy committee and seek resolution. If resolution cannot be reached at that level, then the issue will be referred to the Steering Committee. When in doubt, the language should adhere to our principles. If the Steering Committee cannot broker a resolution, and the member organization proceeds with amendment language that would materially harm or kill the Coalition priority bill, the Steering Committee will review the situation and determine whether the organization may remain within the Coalition or will be asked to step down or take a leave of absence from the Coalition during the campaign in question.
When a member organization has an approach that conflicts with one of the Coalition’s priorities, emphasis will be placed on keeping the Coalition together. The member organization with the conflict has an obligation to notify the full Coalition of the issues related to the conflict. If the conflicting approach won’t impact the Coalition’s priority, then the organization will remain a part of the Coalition. If the organization is committing resources in a way that will cause harm to the Coalition priority, and chooses not to desist following such a request by the consensus of the remaining members of the Policy Committee, then the Steering Committee will review the situation while the organization in question relinquishes direct involvement in the Coalition. The Steering Committee will recommend a course of action and bring the suggested course of action to the full Policy Committee for approval. The Coalition could decide that a member will be removed if the super-majority (75%) of the other members agree. Organizations voted out of the Coalition are eligible to apply to re-join the Coalition one year from the date of removal, provided 75% of current members approve the application of the removed member.
The Coalition will keep the conflict confidential and it will not be shared with the media or legislators.
Decision Making During Session
In order to provide the flexibility for those in Annapolis to authorize changes on behalf of the Coalition quickly during the Maryland General Assembly session, the Coalition will follow this decision-making process for changes to legislation and major strategy changes during the session:
Prior to making a decision about a substantially significant change in legislation or legislative strategy or tactics, the policy group will weigh in on the decision with the understanding that time is of the essence during session. Decisions must be consistent with our principles. Where possible, decisions will be made on Policy calls. Where that is not possible, or the Policy Committee members present for the call determines that the decision warrants additional feedback, a policy committee member or Coalition staff will send an email to the listserv summarizing the decision needed, noting that it is confidential, and giving the timeframe for the decision to be made, with the opportunity to weigh in.
A special call will be convened if needed or if the proposed changes stray from our principles. Coalition members will have a minimum of 12 hours to weigh in.
Members of the policy committee will confirm their organization’s position on the decision needing to be made within their organization prior to representing their organization in this process.
If a decision needs to be made on a contentious issue, every effort will be made to include the anticipated dissenting groups in the decision-making process.
During the breakneck pace of the last week of session, 12 hours may not be available to receive feedback from the full Policy Committee. In this case, when there are literally only minutes to make a decision, people on the ground in Annapolis, Coalition staff, and Issue leads will solicit feedback of the Steering Committee members. The Steering Committee members or their designees will be tasked with making a decision and will be fully briefed on the opinions of dissenting members of the Coalition or Coalition members with concerns.
The Coalition will strive to have an agreement on areas of potential differences of opinion before the session. The Coalition will determine and agree on bottom-line negotiation points before the session.
When legislation is introduced separately from the Coalition priorities that is counter to our principles, we will follow the same process under the section “Choosing Campaigns to Support” to determine whether we will work together as a group to oppose it.
Standard Operating Procedure for Communications & Events
When planning events, the Coalition offers a template to guide discussions found here.
All Coalition members and allies are able to send group emails through the general coalition listserv: email@example.com. This is not a listserv for back and forth conversation. Please note there are several tips to make group emails more manageable and will help limit an influx of emails to members inboxes.
- Use the Subject Line: Make sure you name the email something pertinent to the body of the email, this will make it easy to find locate the email in the future. Sometimes the topic changes through the course of an email chain so in an effort to alleviate this issue, send a new subject for each topic change.
- Limit Use of Reply All
This is the place where we have the most issues; please take a moment to determine if the message is meant for the entire group or for the author of the message, if it can wait for an upcoming call or meeting, or if Coalition staff can disseminate in a daily digest email. If it is meant for only a few people, reply to the author only and then cc the others.
There is also a listserv devoted to policy conversations:
Sign on Letters
When sign on letters, testimony, etc. are developed on relevant policy matters consistent with the Coalition’s goals, no organization will be added to letters without their consent. Staff will attempt to:
- Share drafts of letters with the relevant workgroup for comments;
- Reach consensus on language in the letter;
- Circulate letter with as much time for sign-ons as possible;
- Circulate the complete product to signatories after it is sent.
Coalition staff and Communications Working Group will develop press strategies for Coalition products, events, or respond to requests from press on relevant policy matters consistent with the Coalition’s media strategy and talking points. The Coalition recognizes the importance of balancing partners publicly representing the Coalition in the press. The spokesperson(s) for the Coalition will be determined by the Coalition Staff and Communications Working Group and members will be assigned quotes in press materials on a rotating basis. Exceptions are made when there is a constituency voice represented by a member, or ally that is best suited to communicate the message. Members taking a lead on an issue or priority will be elevated in the communications vehicle and will serve as a press contact. The member(s) quoted and the Coalition staff will be the only contact information listed on the press releases.
Press releases will be drafted that are:
- Consistent with Coalition principles and messaging
- Consistent with policies that the Steering Committee has developed a formal position on
- Includes rotating quotes from members
- Incorporate the feedback of the relevant workgroup for comments;
Coalition staff will maintain all social media outreach on behalf of the coalition including but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the Coalition website: www.marylandclimatecoalition.org
Addendum A: COALITION 501(c) (3) Status
The Coalition is not a separate organization but is a subset of other organizations. The fiscal agent, the National Wildlife Federation, is a 501(c)(3) and as such, that is how the Coalition will be managed.
The Coalition will be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not participate in any political campaign activity for or against political candidates.
Coalition membership is also open to 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) organizations. However, all discussions related to electoral campaigns and endorsements fall under the full purview of those organizations, not the Maryland Climate Coalition. The Climate Coalition includes a number of 501(c)(3) members who are non-partisan and do not make endorsements. Therefore, conversations that happen within the Climate Coalition domain are entirely relegated to policy, legislative, public education, and coalition building issues.
In the instance where resolutions are used for a policy campaign, outreach to candidates is at the discretion of individual organizations. In this situation, this outreach must be to all candidates, not just one party, and should also include sitting leaders who are not up for election. As soon as someone signs the resolution, this falls under the full purview of the relevant 501 c4 or 501 c6 organization. The Coalition cannot mention, promote, highlight, or thank any candidates who sign the resolution. Organizations signing the resolution must be kept separate from candidates/leaders signing the resolution. The two lists of signatories should never be co-mingled, released together, or shown side by side.
Elections: Under the Internal Revenue Code, the Coalition is absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that
- would favor one candidate over another;
- oppose a candidate in some manner; or
- have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.
Lobbying: In contrast to the absolute prohibition on political campaign interventions by all section 501(c) (3) organizations, public charities may conduct a limited amount of lobbying to influence legislation.
The Coalition is completely non-partisan, free from party affiliation, bias, or designation.