IMPORTANT: This post refers to US laws and tax statuses. It is not a substitute for tax advice from an accountant or tax lawyer– just some general information that I’ve learned in the last year receiving donations and grants as an individual and working with 501(c)4 organizations that may help point you in a more favorable direction. The US tax code is tricky so you must not take this post alone as guidance in making your tax or donation decisions.
It’s hard to fund political activity in EA. We don't have the infrastructure yet. Most EA grantors are 501(c)(3) organizations with limits on how much "lobbying" or "attempts to influence legislation" they can fund. Many of those orgs have gone a step further and restricted their donations to 501(c)(3) charitable or organizational purposes only. For instance, although Manifund is able to fund my advocacy activities as long they don’t make up a “substantial” part of the grants they fund, and ultimately drew up a contract for me that reflected that, the original Manifund applicant contract I was presented with specifically requires the signatory to be doing 501(c)(3) activities.
Individuals can give money to whomever they want, but it's only tax-deductible if it goes to tax-exempt entities with a 501(c)(3) designation. Donations to 501(c)(4) social welfare orgs are not tax-exempt, nor are donations to individuals.
Tax-exempt status matters less that you might think for the small-time donor. As I know from giving my Giving What We Can donations, it doesn’t even matter if they were tax deductible unless your donations exceed the standard deduction. According to NerdWallet, “The 2022 standard deduction is $12,950 for single filers, $25,900 for joint filers or $19,400 for heads of household. For the 2023 tax year, those numbers rise to $13,850, $27,700 and $20,800, respectively.” (Here is the IRS tool for calculating your standard deduction.) If your donations don’t exceed these amounts, you should consider that, tax-wise, you’re in a better position than large foundations to donate to political advocacy or lobbying.
Giving individuals gifts as opposed to grants is a much more favorable tax situation for the individual, who will generally not have to pay tax on gifts received but does have to pay tax on grants received. The giver may have to pay gift tax, but depending on the situation you may prefer paying gift tax to overhead being taken out of the donation to run the granting program and the (individual) recipient being taxed on the grant. Consider that, if you are donating to an org so they can support individuals, you might want to cut out the middleman.
See Linch's comment below for more on gift tax exemptions-- I don't get into these in the body of the text because I don't fully understand the law here and I really don't want to give anyone false ideas about not owing taxes.