Progress North Carolina
Posted February 27, 2013
Updated January 12, 2015
As they describe themselves: Progress North Carolina is actually two different groups. Progress NC is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit not allowed to get directly involved in politics. Progress NC Action is a 501(c)(4) that is allowed to advocated for causes and candidates. On its Progress NC, the (c)(3), describes itself as "a voice for forward-thinking North Carolinians who want to protect the balanced approach to government that made our state great....Progress North Carolina promotes public policies which make NC a fairer, healthier, more equitable state by advocating solutions to critical community problems." The about page for Progress NC Action carries much the same language, but says "as a 501(c)(4) political education organization, are active in elections that further our mission."
Affiliates and brands: Progress NC issues statements and takes action mainly under its own banner. Like other organizations, it is split between a charitable nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that can take tax deductable contributions and a "social welfare" 501(c)4 nonprofit that doesn't pay taxes but can support or oppose candidates.
Network*: Z. Smith Reynolds
Funding: Progress NC is tied to the ProgressNow Education Fund, a St. Paul Minnesota group that serves as the 501(c)(3) umbrella group for ProgressNC and 20 other Progress Now "state partner" organizations. In 2011, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation gave the ProgressNow Education Fund $175,000 for "general operating support." In 2011, the two organizations reported combined income of $185,473.
IRS 990: Progress North Carolina 2013 IRS 990
State Information: Neither arm of Progress NC is registered with the N.C. Secretary of State's office Charitable Solicitation section. According to the Secretary of States office, nonprofits that don't raise individual contributions over a certain threshold or meet other guidelines do not have to register with the section. Details on those exemptions can be found here. It appears from their IRS 990 forms that Progress NC may fall within those exemptions.
Lobbyist: Progress NC does not have any registered lobbyists.
Media Profile: Progress NC and its "social welfare" nonprofit garnered a lot of attention during the 2012 gubernatorial campaign, when they regularly dogged then-Republican candidate Pat McCrory with conflict of interest claims. The group has continued to be active into this year's legislative session, regularly sending news releases to reporters and holding events throughout the state. Although the group does not use the term in its self description, it is politically liberal.
* Many of the public policy think tanks and advocacy groups active in North Carolina fall into one of two camps: A liberal circuit with ties to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and a conservative circuit with ties to the John William Pope Foundation. For more, click here.