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Nonprofit Advocacy Updates


Updated Special Report


Turning Nonprofit Partnerships with Governments into ARPA Fund Investments

Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with NonprofitsSix months after its enactment, the American Rescue Plan Act is growing in significance for charitable nonprofits as governments at all levels have begun partnering with charitable organizations to put these once-in-a-generation resources to use in ways that address longstanding challenges and improve conditions in communities. In an updated edition of the Special Report, Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits, readers will see how government officials are partnering even more with charitable organizations AND are applying the guiding principles and recommendations articulated by and for nonprofit in the previous edition of the report.


Now comes the updated edition of the Special Report to provide nonprofits and their government partners with dozens of additional examples of thoughtful collaborations that are producing immediate benefits to people in communities throughout the country. This new expanded edition provides a roadmap for lawmakers at every step of the funding continuum to see proven avenues for wise funding decisions. We encourage our partners in government to use this report to help them make the decision to provide relief to nonprofits adversely affected by the pandemic. It can also be a guide to how other governments are partnering with charitable organizations to address community needs and build workable programs. We urge nonprofits to take to heart the materials in the report and use it to advance their missions, relationships, and impact.




Federal Issues


Dangerous Fiscal Cliffs Still Loom as Congress “Kicks the Can Down the Road”

Congress has acted in recent weeks to keep the federal government open and delay the sunset of various programs, but it did so only by delaying final action on significant legislation. Last week, President Biden signed the bill to avert a debt limit crisis by extending the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority into early December. That date roughly coincides with the expiration of the Continuing Resolution that funds most federal government operations through December 3. Separately, Congress extended the surface transportation law authorizing spending on roads and bridges through October 31, a date selected to maintain pressure on the House to take up the $1 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed the Senate in August. Democratic leaders have paired the infrastructure bill with the budget reconciliation measure designed to enact the President’s Build Back Better agenda. Charitable nonprofits have many public policies riding on each of these pieces of legislation, making the coming weeks and months essential times for nonprofits to engage in advocacy.


House Speaker Pelosi has set an October 31 deadline for resolving budget reconciliation differences among Democrats but, with less than two weeks left, no resolution appears to be in sight. By all accounts, the price tag of the President’s Build Back Better bill is shrinking from $3.5 trillion to somewhere between $1.5 trillion and $2.3 trillion, depending on who is asked. The Speaker recently wrote to Democratic Members of the House recommending that they attempt “to do fewer things well so that we can still have a transformative impact on families.” In a subsequent news conference, she identified three priority “buckets” – climate, healthcare, and family care – suggesting that many proposals that are outside these policy areas may get deleted from the bill or significantly cut back. If Democrats can resolve their differences on the substance of the budget reconciliation bill – a measure that Republicans cannot filibuster – most commentators presume final action would occur in December, when the debt ceiling and fiscal year appropriations must be addressed.

Perspectives from Main Street

Perspectives from Main StreetThe Federal Reserve released the initial results of its recent nationwide survey conducted to learn more about the effects of COVID-19 on low- to moderate-income people and communities and the entities – primarily nonprofits – serving them. The results show that more than half of respondents (57%) reported that COVID-19 was causing a significant disruption to services for children, with 77% noting that conditions were still worse than they were pre-pandemic. Almost 70% of organizations responding to the survey indicated that demand for their services had increased compared with pre-pandemic levels, and almost half (46%) noted a decrease in their ability to meet the increased needs. More than half of the respondents said the pandemic had a negative impact on their entities’ financial health. Across almost all categories, half the respondents estimated it will take one to three years for a return to pre-pandemic conditions. For context, 82% of the entities responding were nonprofits; 5% were governments, 3% were education related, 3% were financial institutions, 2% were private industry, and 4% other.

Federal FastView

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness: More nonprofit employees relying on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program should have greater and easier access to student loan forgiveness as the result of short-term revisions announced by the U.S. Department of Education. The temporary expansion, implemented to rectify past problems in the program, is expected to help more than a half a million borrowers, many of whom work at charitable nonprofit organizations. It reportedly will reduce student debt by $1.74 billion in the near term. The plan includes a limited waiver to count all prior payments by borrowers (regardless of loan program), improved automation, simplified qualified payments and application processes, and expanded outreach and communication to eligible borrowers. Separately, some additional applicants who previously were denied relief will automatically have their cases reviewed by the Department under a settlement agreement reached in related litigation. Nonprofit workers who believe they are eligible for forgiveness or wish to have their employment at their current charitable nonprofit employer certified should take action through the PSLF Help Tool, available at and can learn more at Good News for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Borrowers.
  • September Nonprofit Jobs Report: Nonprofit employment fell by 2,500 jobs in September, registering a decline of nearly 560,000 nonprofit jobs since the onset of the pandemic, according the latest report from the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Increased employment in social assistance (12,000) and arts (6,600) were more than cancelled out by job losses in education (13,000) and healthcare (7,600). September’s jobs numbers reflect the sector’s first monthly decline since December 2020, showing we still have a long way to go to recover all the nonprofit jobs lost because of the pandemic
  • OSHA Vaccination & Testing Standard Advances: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has sent its draft Emergency Temporary Standard on the vaccine and testing requirements ordered by President Biden to the Office of Management and Budget for final revisions and sign-off. The OMB review, which can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, is the final step before the standard is published and immediately goes into effect. A Labor Department spokesman explained that the OSHA standard will provide instructions on what is required of employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or undergo weekly testing to protect employees from the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. In September the National Council of Nonprofits sent a letter to OSHA raising Nonprofit Questions Concerning the COVID-19 Vaccination & Testing Emergency Temporary Standard.
  • Allowing Social Investing: The U.S. Department of Labor is considering an interpretation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to permit pension plan fiduciaries to consider climate change and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors when they make investment decisions. The proposed rule, which would reverse the approach taken by the Trump Administration, would also apply to fiduciary decisions related to when they exercise shareholder rights, including voting on shareholder resolutions and board nominations. Historically, the investment decisions of pension plan fiduciaries have been limited to “pecuniary factors” and social investing has been prohibited. The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period that will close in mid-December. 

In Focus

Nonprofit Jobs Crisis


Take the Survey

We want to hear from you. Is your nonprofit facing a staffing shortage? What factors are creating the problem? What does it mean for the people your nonprofit serves? Please share your nonprofit’s experience in this quick Survey on Nonprofit Workforce Shortage so we can learn more about the scope of the issue and try to find solutions.

There is clearly a problem filling jobs in the nonprofit sector, but the consequences, including the inability to provide services on which people rely, are not fully appreciated by policymakers and the public. Nonprofits across the country are reporting staffing shortages and an inability to retain or attract qualified workers to provide essential services to their communities. Unlike for-profit employers, nonprofits often do not have the flexibility to increase wages because of funding constraints like fixed government grants and contracts and donations that do not cover the full costs of services. The negative consequences of lost talent are directly felt by the communities nonprofits serve. Michael Weekes, President & CEO of Providers’ Council, a state association of nonprofits in Massachusetts, recently wrote, “While it remains Help Wanted in many fields, it really is Help Needed for community-based human services organizations in Massachusetts and elsewhere. The health and well-being of residents across the United States depends on finding and developing talented staff to provide essential care to all those in need.” Read more in Not simply Help Wanted – but Help Needed.


State and Local Issues


Investing ARPA Funds

Governments Seek Public Input, Transparency

Several local governments are taking a very public approach to identifying community-based needs as they decide how to spend resources allocated to them under ARPA’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Shortly after ARPA funds were made available, the City of Alexandria, Virginia took a transparent approach to decision making by inviting residents, nonprofits, and businesses to identify their priorities for the use of the funds by ranking a list of potential programs and projects. The result was an Allocation Plan designed to ensure a balanced set of goals established from this public input: businesses thrive, everyone has access to the basics, recovery lifts everyone, and the City makes long-term investments for the future. New Orleans, Louisiana established a 28-member task force of community and business leaders to provide recommendations. Also in Louisiana, Shreveport’s Mayor convened six listening sessions to collect resident feedback on issues like infrastructure and technology, and distributed a survey on funding priorities. Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott established the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs to administer ARPA funding on behalf of the City via an application process. The office held a webinar, City of Baltimore Nonprofit ARPA Application Training, in advance of the application portal’s availability to nonprofits this month. Cook County, Illinois, is seeking community input to guide its spending of $1 billion in ARPA funds and will be holding Virtual Town Halls throughout October. Forefront, the state association of nonprofits in Illinois, is asking nonprofits to share these opportunities to engage with the ARPA process with partners, specifically those working in suburban Cook County.

2021 Session Highlight

Fundraising Platform Regulations

Fundraising platforms operating in California, like PayPal and Facebook, will be required to register, file, and report to the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts under a newly enacted law. Among other things, third party “charitable fundraising platforms” that assist charitable nonprofits with fundraising will be required to provide increased disclosures, verify good standing of recipient organizations with the state, maintain separate accounts for funds, and ensure prompt transfer of donations and grants. The legislation took several forms over the past few years and targeted what was perceived as a gap in state solicitation laws that allowed platforms to collect donations in the name of a charitable nonprofit, but then not forward those funds to the intended recipient organization. “This legislation impacts every single person who clicks on that ‘donate now’ button and every single nonprofit that receives funding this way,” commented Jan Masaoka, CEO of CalNonprofits, which pushed for various provisions in the legislation. “It may be low-profile but it’s most certainly high-impact and meaningful” by requiring that fundraising platforms disclose all processing fees up upfront and, in most cases, receive consent by the recipient organization before soliciting funds. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023, with rulemaking beginning in 2022.


Advocacy in Action


Nonprofits Take Note

The Elections Are Coming! The Elections Are Coming!

No, it’s not the 2024 Presidential Elections (thankfully), or even the 2022 “Mid-Term Elections” for Congress and most state legislatures. Rather, in the coming weeks voters will cast ballots for governors, lieutenant governors, and state legislators (New Jersey and Virginia) and other statewide positions like judgeships and school superintendent (Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin), mayors in more than 40 cities, city councilmembers in more than 20 states, and school boards in more than 463 school districts across the country, plus open congressional seats in Florida and Ohio. Twenty-eight statewide ballot measures have been certified for November elections in seven states. In short, Election Day is only 15 days away for many citizens. And as readers of this section of the newsletter know, elections can be times for charitable nonprofits to strengthen their communities and advance their missions – in strictly nonpartisan ways that are tried and true.


National Voter Registration DayPublic policies at all levels of government affect nonprofits wherever they operate. Accordingly, nonprofits share the responsibility to promote greater engagement of the citizenry, civic dialogue, fair and open elections, and open government. With so many seats and issues up for grabs, nonprofit organizations are called to get engaged to encourage their boards, staff, volunteers, and those they serve to register and vote. For example, Nonprofit VOTE led this year’s immensely successful National Voter Registration Day during which more than 87 Premier Partners and 3,000 community partners together registered approximately 250,000 voters.


CT Community Nonprofit AllianceNonprofits aren’t stopping there. CT Community Nonprofit Alliance is reaching out to nonprofits and to candidates to take full advantage of the elections. The state association of nonprofits in Connecticut is providing its members tips on changes to voting requirements for this year’s elections, such as sharing steps for delivering an application for an absentee ballot via official drop box, mail, or hand delivery. The CT Alliance is also helping to educate those on the ballot. In a recent Candidate Bulletin, the CT Alliance explains that “Candidates for municipal office can help community nonprofits recover from the operational and financial challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic” by calling for the proper allocation of local ARPA funds. The flyer provides background on the legitimate uses of the funds, makes key recommendations, and offers “a list of examples of programs for which local governments can contract with community nonprofits.”


North Carolina Center for NonprofitsThe North Carolina Center for Nonprofits also alerted its members that “early voting began in many of the cities and towns around North Carolina holding municipal elections this fall.” The state association of nonprofits explained, “One highly effective way to help ensure that your staff, volunteers, and the people you serve participate in these elections is to publicize the early voting hours and locations in the counties you serve.” The organization shared helpful links to North Carolina’s You Can Vote webpage, which provides information on how to register, and the NC State Board of Elections’ One Stop Early Voting Site List. It also urged organizations to “push out the relevant information via your emails, social media, and flyers,” because some counties have changed voting sites due to COVID-19, so “the few minutes you put in to look up this information and push it out to everyone your nonprofit can reach has the potential to help hundreds of voters cast their ballots more easily.”


Association of Art Museum DirectorsAnd state associations of nonprofits aren’t the only ones engaging members in nonpartisan voter education efforts. The Association of Art Museum Directors shared examples of voter registration and civic engagement by member museums. Most of the examples integrated the projects with the museum’s artistic mission like the I Approve This Message: Decoding Political Ads from the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio and the Connected by Glass: Election Transparency event by the Corning Museum of Glass in New York. The We Count: First-Time Voters exhibition at the Frist Art Museum in Tennessee highlighted the history of voting and the first-time voting experiences of a diverse group of Nashvillians. Other museums actively engage in voter registration activities. Beginning in 2008, the Hammer Museum at the University of California Los Angeles began placing voter registration cards at prominent locations around the museum, and in 2018 became an official polling place in Los Angeles. The Oakland Museum partners with the League of Women Voters to register voters during its Friday evening family events.


The message is clear: nonprofits can and should engage in get-out-the-vote activities. It’s time to get #VoteReady and encourage you communities to make their voices heard.



Read more examples of Advocacy in Action,
a regular feature of Nonprofit Advocacy Updates.