Question on 501(c)3 status in California and promoting other organizations/classes outside of our own

Hi all, this year I was strong-armed into becoming president for a small subscription/membership-based federal 501(c)3 in California that has a largely older crowd (on the board and with our activities). I am the youngest on the board by maybe 15-20 years and was a VP last year but my job was significantly easier, and the last president didn't really care for or teach me what being a federally recognized 501(c)3 means because of laziness/COVID/their own naivete.

I am passionate about this organization's mission and truly want to see them succeed, but I also feel like I'm doing them a favor because on top of doing president duties I am doing several other tasks (marketing, website maintenance, etc) on top of my full-time job which is demanding and takes priority. So whenever I don't respond or do something in the timeframe that the rest of the board believes I should be doing, I get reprimanded. Understandable, I wish I was better at time management, but these people are also retired and could help more if they really wanted to and weren't willfully computer challenged (COVID forced us to temporarily move a lot of our operations online).

One reprimand really struck a nerve with me though. I had started advertising (for free) beginner classes at a local for-profit store for what we do since a lot of our hosted classes for members are intermediate to advanced, and I was told by several board members to take down those postings. I asked for specific documentation on what says a 501(c)3 can't promote an organization not in conflict with the organization's mission and they couldn't find it. However, I am also crippled in sharing other information I feel is useful for our members: traveling supply show dates, other similar nonprofits serving other states/regions, stores selling supplies for our classes, basically anything that mentions the name of an entity outside of ourselves, and we are struggling to retain members as it is. If someone on the board privately messages us asking for beginner classes we usually refer them to the same store I was advertising anyway, so I was trying to save us all some time.

I'm at a loss here. I keep getting pressured to grow the org but all of my attempts to grow it are being thwarted because of this 501(c)3 status and the alleged "restrictions" and I'm too ignorant right now to fight it. Can anyone help me with some resources I could use, especially about sharing publicly available information from for-profit entities that don't conflict with our offerings? We may be able to afford a brief consultation from a nonprofit lawyer but I would need board voting approval and they may be using this as a way to control what I do and who joins their "club." Thanks in advance.

submitted by /u/inochiishtal
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