Kiker speaks at the opening of Cascade’s new office
Cascade Bicycle Club is currently considering major changes to their organizational structure that could end their ability to endorse political candidates or directly assist in their campaigns. This would be a significant change in the club’s advocacy goal to “educate and elect leaders, no matter their political stripe, who will prioritize passing laws and funding for improving bicycling in the Central Puget Sound Region,” as stated on their elections webpage.
“This doesn’t reflect a shift away from advocacy work, which is why we want to look at this carefully,” said Catherine Hennings, who just took on the role of Cascade Board President this month. “Our commitment to advocacy is as strong as ever.”
But the change, which we first reported back in November 2013, would definitely impact the kinds of election work the club does. Currently, most of the club operates as a 501(c)(4), though Cascade’s Education Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) with its own Board. Cascade’s (c)(4) also operates Bike PAC, a political action committee that “complements the election work of the Cascade Bicycle Club to help elect pro-bike candidates.”
But the Board could decide to switch to an entirely 501(c)(3) model, an idea they will discuss and potentially vote on during their March 18 meeting.
As a 501(c)(4), Cascade can openly endorse candidates and even help their campaigns. They can lobby members and the general public to vote for them or even organize hands-on campaign work, like phone banking or knocking on doors. They can help candidates craft strategy and share other resources to help them succeed.
Cascade is somewhat unique among bike organizations in the nation for having a successful 501(c)(4) that is funded in large part by extremely popular events (like the annual Seattle to Portland) and strong enough to actually influence elections. As we reported previously, Cascade is so much larger than any other local bike/walk advocacy in the nation that it puts Seattle in a league of its own: Continue reading