Free National Webinar – August 10
Investing ARPA Funds in the Work of Charitable Nonprofits Promoting Nonprofit-Government Partnerships
How can your nonprofit access some of the $350 billion that Congress recently allocated for state, local, and Tribal governments to help “households, small businesses, and nonprofits” recover from the pandemic? What types of activities and costs are eligible for funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)? How can nonprofits make sure governments know how important it is to invest in the work of charitable nonprofits in their communities? The answers to these and many other questions will be provided in a free national webinar: Investing ARPA Funds in the Work of Charitable Nonprofits | Promoting Nonprofit-Government Partnerships on Tuesday, August 10, 3:00 – 4:15 pm Eastern.
We welcome you to share this announcement with any other nonprofits you know.
State of Play
Senate Working Overtime to Pass Infrastructure Bill, Budget Resolution
For two weekends in a row, the Senate has been working to complete action on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill with the knowledge that their work won’t be done until the chamber also approves a budget resolution calling for up to $3.5 trillion in additional spending and taxes. The Senate has been working through more than 500 amendments to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a bill to increase funding for roads, bridges, broadband expansion and access, and other infrastructure projects. The bill includes the text of the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act (S.196) that would create a $50 million pilot program to support nonprofit energy retro fits to promote efficiency. On the downside, one of the proposals to pay for part of the infrastructure spending would cancel the fourth quarter of eligibility this year for the Employee Retention Tax Credit program that provides nonprofits and other employers refundable payroll tax credits for keeping staff employed. An amendment (#2637) filed by Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) would restore the tax credit for nonprofit employers, but its status is unclear. Senate leaders hope to pass the bill late this evening or early Tuesday before sending it to the House, which is on recess until September.
In opening the debate on the infrastructure bill this past week, Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) said, “Our goal is to pass both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period, and we will stay here to get both done.” The budget resolution is the document that will authorize Congress to enact an additional $3.5 trillion in spending priorities paid for partially with tax increases. Part of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, the budget resolution released today (resolution text, summary, detailed description) would authorize a major expansion of programs like the child tax credit, free Pre-K and community college, and paid leave, among others. As with the 2017 tax law and the American Rescue Plan Act, the Senate majority plans to use the “budget reconciliation” process later this year to enact sweeping legislation by a simple majority.
Declaring Nonprofit Policy Priorities
The broad nonprofit coalition working on COVID relief and recovery (#Relief4Charities coalition) sent the new Charitable Nonprofit Policy Priorities Letter to the White House and all House and Senate offices. The letter, now signed by more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations from all 50 states, stresses: “Given our unique role of providing pandemic relief and economic recovery, we ask that Congress and the Administration enact a package of relief solutions tailored to the actual needs and realities of these organizations that, like you, are devoted to serving the public good.” The purpose of the letter is to get key policy solutions before all federal lawmakers so they can advance the proposals or at least do no harm in the infrastructure, budget, or other looming legislation. Those solutions include:
- Nonprofit Jobs: Enactment of the WORK NOW Act, improvements to the Employee Retention Tax Credit, collection and reporting of nonprofit employment data; and
- Nonprofit Resources: Extension and expansion of the Universal Charitable Deduction, protecting the itemized charitable donation deduction, appropriation of emergency grant funds, preservation of the ARPA state/local funds, and significant broadband investment.
The updated Charitable Nonprofit Policy Priorities Letter remains open for additional signers and will be updated and delivered anew when timely. We encourage all charitable nonprofits to sign the letter and share the letter with colleague organizations.
- PPP Loan Forgiveness Streamlined: The Small Business Administration has opened a streamlined application portal to allow nonprofits and other borrowers with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $150,000 or less to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA. Previously, all borrowers had to submit their PPP loan forgiveness applications through their lenders first, adding an additional bureaucratic step. In announcing the new portal, which opened on August 4, SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said, “The SBA’s new streamlined application portal will simplify forgiveness for millions of our smallest businesses ... who used funds from our Paycheck Protection Program loans to survive the pandemic.” SBA also issued an Interim Final Rule implementing these procedural changes as well as easing the documentation requirement for demonstrating revenue reduction for Second Draw PPP Loans. Further, the rule extends the loan deferment period for those PPP loans where the borrower timely files an appeal of a final SBA loan review decision.
- Seeking Nonprofit Jobs Data: A large coalition of nonprofits and researchers is calling on the federal government to “release accurate and accessible data on nonprofit employment and wage trends on a quarterly basis, on par with other major industries in the country.” The letter to the Labor Department Secretary emphasizes, “It is fundamentally unfair for the BLS to give regular quarterly workforce data to industries like goat farming and limousine service, while the nonprofit sector—representing more than 10% of the nation’s private workforce—is required to either purchase this information or wait years for it.” The letter was submitted in response to the request for comments to the Labor Department’s draft 2022–2026 Strategic and Evidence-Building plans. The quest for current, accurate data on nonprofit employment is a key ask in the current list of nonprofit policy priorities, discussed above.
- Student Loan Moratorium Extended: The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that it is continuing the moratorium on federal student loan payments through Jan. 31, 2022. The relief for borrowers was set to expire next month. “The payment pause has been a lifeline that allowed millions of Americans to focus on their families, health and finances instead of student loans during the national emergency,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. Continuing, he said, “As our nation’s economy continues to recover from a deep hole, this final extension will give students and borrowers the time they need” to plan to resume payments. Importantly to nonprofit employees, the forbearance will continue to count towards borrower’s qualified payments for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
- ERTC Updated Guidance: This past week the Treasury Department and IRS issued guidance on the Employee Retention Tax Credit (Notice 2021-49) providing updates on how employers are to determine and claim the refundable payroll tax credit for qualified wages paid after June 30, 2021 and before January 1, 2022. The IRS made clear in its announcement that it "will continue to monitor potential legislation related to the ERC" (see above article). The new notice also clarifies, among other things, that only full-time employees (those working 30 hours or more per week) are counted in determining whether an employer is a large or small employer for eligibility purposes; once the size is determined under the statute, employers can claim the qualified wages paid to full-time equivalents in calculations of tax savings/refunds under the ERTC. This is an important distinction that should benefit nonprofits with large part-time staffs.
- Paid Leave FAQs: Eligible nonprofits and other employers can claim the refundable payroll tax credits for providing leave to employees so they can accompany a family or household member (or certain other individuals) to obtain COVID-19 immunization, according to newly published frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the IRS. The updates also make clear that the relief extends to care for a family or household member or certain other individuals recovering from the immunization. The FAQs provide information on how eligible employers can claim the paid sick and family leave credits — including how to file for and compute the applicable credit amounts, and how to receive advance payments for and refunds of the credits.
- Charitable Giving Report: For the first time in nearly two decades, only half of U.S. households donated to a charitable nonprofit in 2018, according to a new study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The percentage has been declining since the Great Recession and fell to below half (49.6%) in 2018 for the first time since the researchers began tracking charitable giving. Just over one-third of the decline in giving participation can be attributed to changes in income and wealth, the report asserts. Trust and giving rates decreased among both younger and older Americans; in addition, both trust and giving participation rates decreased more among younger Americans than older Americans. The findings confirm a trend worrying experts: Total dollars donated to charitable causes are reaching record highs, but the giving is done by a smaller and smaller slice of the population.
Take the Survey
Help communities by sharing the pandemic’s impact on your nonprofit
Every nonprofit has felt the pandemic’s effects differently, and each has had a front-row view of how the pandemic has affected local communities. We are partnering with the Federal Reserve on a survey to create a comprehensive picture of the effects on nonprofits and the communities we serve, both nationwide and in individual states. The results will help nonprofits inform policymakers at every level of government about the challenges we all faced this past year and can help nonprofits advocate for further relief. Your views are important. Please take 15 minutes to complete the survey today to help inform equitable recovery programs and policies.
After you take the survey, we encourage you to share the link with other nonprofits you know so we can help create the most complete picture possible. Thank you.
2021 Sessions Recap
COVID-19 Liability Protections
One of the most active policy questions across the states in 2021 has been whether employers and other entities reopening for business should be protected from COVID-related lawsuits. More than half the states enacted broad protections from liability lawsuits arising from COVID-19, most of which extend to nonprofit employers. Generally, the laws are temporary and limit the liability of any entity, including nonprofits, from lawsuits stemming from COVID-19. Most of the laws provide a safe harbor for any employer or business owner that operates in substantial compliance with health regulations or orders. Typically, the laws do not extend protections for gross negligence, wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct. Some of the new laws explicitly allow employees who contract the coronavirus to file worker’s compensation claims. Thus far, the courts have not seen the anticipated increase in lawsuits due to exposure that the laws were created to avoid.
Spending ARPA Funds
Focus on Grant Programs and Relief Funds
States have begun allocating monies from American Rescue Plan Act Fiscal Recovery Funds for funding opportunities for nonprofits and small businesses. Some grant programs and relief funds allow nonprofits to tap into new finances and resources for recovery, economic development, and nonprofit priorities.
- California: A bill signed by the Governor authorizes $1.5 billion in additional funding for a COVID-19 relief grant program for small businesses and nonprofits. The legislation also establishes and provides $50 million and $150 million in funding, respectively, to the California Nonprofit Performing Arts Grant Program, and the newly created California Venues Grant Program. Grants will be available for up to $250,000 or 20% of gross revenue to eligible independent live events affected by COVID-19.
- Maine: Policymakers allocated $430 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term economic growth, and infrastructure. New legislation makes funds available for nonprofits working in the areas of community development, housing, and veterans supports. The law requires the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to submit legislation to the Appropriations committee.
- Minnesota: A new spending bill establishes the $70 million Main Street COVID-19 Relief Grant Program to help small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19, including nonprofits organizations that earn revenue in ways similar to businesses, such as ticket sales and membership fees. The legislation also establishes the $80 million Main Street Economic Revitalization Program to support partner organizations, including nonprofits, businesses, and developers, for grants and guaranteed loans for economic development and redevelopment project.
Read the Special Report, Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits, for more ideas for investing ARPA funds to support the work of charitable nonprofits. And join tomorrow's webinar to learn more!
Become a Nonprofit Partner
2021 National Voter Registration Day
The National Voter Registration Day this year is September 28. Always scheduled for six weeks before the November election, the day is dedicated to promoting voter registration throughout the country in a nonpartisan way. Charitable nonprofits are encouraged to sign up as a partner in the work on this important day. Eligibility is open to all organizations that are nonpartisan, providing equal access, compliant with state legal frameworks, and willing to share in a post-event survey. Interested in becoming an official partner for National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 28, 2021? Sign up now for #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and be #VoteReady!
Learning from Others - the Way Networks Work
Pick your cliché, the Advocacy in Action feature of this newsletter is where “the rubber hits the road” and where we feature nonprofits not only “talking the talk,” but also “walking the walk.” For us, it’s not enough just to report what’s going on. In this section of Nonprofit Advocacy Updates, we share the inspiration of advocacy activities by practitioners around the country. Advocacy in Action articles so far this year have featured innovations in the areas of relationship building, messaging and communications, subject-matter expertise, policy development, grassroots mobilization, and more. The articles don’t just end the newsletter on a high note (which they do); they also encourage us (and hopefully you) to identify and learn from everyday advocacy successes that are mission-centered and proof that advocacy works.
Here is a sampling of recent stories of inspiration and tools for advancing agendas:
People know that charitable nonprofits are problem solvers in their communities. That’s why some people choose to work for or volunteer at nonprofits, and it’s why other people turn to charitable organizations when seeking relief, recovery, rebuilding, and rejoicing. So, it is imminently reasonable, though not nearly common enough, that wise elected officials – serving the same constituents as nonprofits – seek to sit down with nonprofit leaders to identify problems, envision solutions, and mobilize to get them done.
EGOT’s got nothing on nonprofit advocates. While entertainers may celebrate receiving Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys (EGOT), equally important (to us) is the recognition awarded by nonprofit state associations to excellence in nonprofit advocacy.
The $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds aren’t going to spend themselves. State and local politicians need to be reminded that a) charitable nonprofits have performed above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic, and b) charitable nonprofits are still hurting. The new Special Report from the National Council of Nonprofits provides many examples and messaging points for charitable organizations to turn the promise of the federal funds into resources that support organizational and community recovery. In short, the Special Report is a set of tools with which nonprofits advocates can advocate.
If the pen is mightier than the sword, then what are data? Even mightier? Mightiest? We ask the question here, in this section of the newsletter dedicated to highlighting effective nonprofit advocacy, to draw attention to the impact that up-to-date data can have on public policy debates and decision making. We know, for instance, that the nonprofit sector has 733,000 fewer jobs because of the pandemic and that charitable giving last year declined by 7% for smaller nonprofits. The power of data is why the National Council of Nonprofits Letter to Congress at the top of today’s newsletter used those two data points. So, what other data are out there for nonprofit advocates to mine for persuasive points to drive policy?
Thanks for reading. More great stories to come. Keep up the impressive advocacy work. Our communities are counting on you.
Read more examples of Advocacy in Action,
a regular feature of Nonprofit Advocacy Updates.