The Scope and Impact of Nonprofit Job Vacancies
In October 2021, the networks of the National Council of Nonprofits posted an online survey to gauge the scope of the workforce shortage problems for charitable organizations and determine the impact on their abilities to advance their missions. A preliminary analysis of results finds that nearly half (47%) reported vacancies of between zero and 9%. Fifteen percent shared job vacancy rates of between 10% and 19%, and a troubling 26% responded that they had job openings for 20% to 29% of their positions. Twenty-seven percent responded that their waiting list had grown to more than a month due to job vacancies, including a domestic violence shelter in Montana, and another organization reported more than 1,500 children waiting for services.
Causes of the job vacancies were clear to survey respondents. Eight out of 10 nonprofits identified salary competition as a factor preventing them from filling job openings. Nearly a quarter (23%) stated that the inability to find child care affected recruitment and retention. Vaccination policies affect more than one in five (21%) respondents.
The solutions to the job vacancy challenges identified by survey participants reflect the concentration of human service providers (58%) that typically perform services on behalf of governments pursuant to written agreements, typically government grants or contracts. Several themes recurred in the comments from nonprofit professionals, often reflecting long-standing problems made worse by the pandemic and resulting economic crisis. These include a call for governments to update reimbursement rates, for the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect and publish current nonprofit employment data, the implementation of cost-of-living adjustments, and recognition and payment of indirect cost rates.
The Survey Is Still Open
Take Action on the Nonprofit Jobs Vacancy Crisis
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. Take the survey!
Big Agenda Items Advancing
President Biden is scheduled to sign the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, H.R. 3684, today in a White House ceremony. The $1.2 trillion measure that passed the Senate in August and the House earlier this month will pay for road and other “hard” infrastructure projects, and includes $65 billion for broadband access and a $50 million grant program to support nonprofit energy retro fits to promote efficiency. One of the proposals to pay for part of the infrastructure spending repeals 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. See next article.
Also this week, the House plans to take up and pass the Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376, but the details appear to be in flux. The $1.75 trillion bill includes many of President Biden’s “human infrastructure” policy priorities, such as universal Pre-K, child care supports and tax credits, home care services, housing aid, and $550 billion in programs to address climate change. Democratic progressives and moderates in the House continue to negotiate over numerous provisions, such as a hike in the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions from $10,000 to $80,000. There also appear to be growing concerns about the impact of anti-discrimination rules in Pre-K and child care provisions on programs run by faith-based organizations. Read the National Council of Nonprofits’ Review of Nonprofit Priorities in the Build Back Better Act.
Administration Issues Vaccination and Testing Requirements
This month, federal agencies issued rules implementing President Biden’s orders promoting workplace vaccinations for COVID-19, answering some questions while raising others including over the legality of the new rules.
OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard: The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on November 5 promulgated an emergency temporary standard requiring employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that workers are vaccinated or are regularly tested for COVID-19. The number of employees triggering coverage is based on all employees, fulltime and part-time workers combined. Employees working remotely or outdoors are counted for employer coverage purposes, but they may not necessarily be required to get vaccinated or tested if they do not come in contact (or have only de minimis contact) with coworkers or clients/customers. Individuals who have certain medical conditions or sincerely held religious objections (as defined by the EEOC) will not have to be vaccinated, but still must be tested and wear face coverings in group settings. Employers may require employees pay the costs of testing, except where other legal or collective bargaining obligations require otherwise. OSHA is inviting public comments on the emergency temporary standard; comments are due on December 6, 2021. See the National Council of Nonprofits analysis, COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Requirements for Larger Employers, and the OSHA website, COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS.
Standard Stayed: On Friday, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals issued a stay of enforcement of the new standard pending further judicial review, specifically ordering “that OSHA take no steps to implement or enforce the Mandate until further court order.” The Supreme Court will likely have to resolve the legal questions, but in the meantime the quick implementation dates appear to be on hold.
CMS Vaccine Requirements: Also on November 5, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published an interim final rule titled “Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination.” It imposes COVID-19 vaccination requirements for staff at fifteen types of Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers/suppliers, including hospitals, critical access hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, hospices, and skilled nursing facilities/nursing facilities. CMS has published answers to frequently asked questions and other resources to help employers and employees understand what is required.
- Nonprofit Job Growth Recorded: Nonprofits added nearly 45,000 jobs in October, reducing the total lost jobs by 8.3% from the 536,073 jobs still lost due to the pandemic as of September, according to a new analysis from the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Job growth was modest for social assistance nonprofits, adding less than 4,000 in the month despite multiple vacancies, as detailed in the preliminary survey results, above. The most robust gains occurred in the health care field which added more than 16,000 jobs, followed by educational services that increased employment by more than 12,000 workers. Arts, entertainment, and recreation-oriented nonprofits added 3,200 jobs. Also of note, October 2021 was the first month since the onset of the pandemic that recorded a slight recovery of jobs in nonprofit nursing and residential care facilities, adding an estimated 1,300 workers during the month. However, jobs in this sub-sector remain down by over 139,000 compared to pre-pandemic staffing levels.
- Census Undercount and Unfairness: The 2020 census may have undercounted the U.S. population by more than 1.6 million people, or 0.5% of the population, according to research from the Urban Institute released this month. The analysis found that Black and Hispanic/Latinx people had a net undercount of more than 2.45 and 2.17 percent, respectively, and that young children, or those younger than age 5, were likely net undercounted by 4.86 percent. The research also determined that households with a noncitizen present were probably undercounted by 3.36 percent, while, nationwide, renters were likely undercounted by 2.13 percent. Undercounts affect the distribution of federal funding across the country, depriving many communities of resources to which they would be eligible absent the inaccurate data.
- New DAF Giving Data Released: Two new reports were published last week analyzing distributions from donor advised funds (DAFs). The National Philanthropic Trust released its 15th annual Donor-Advised Fund Report, providing data on DAF use in fiscal year 2020. According to the report, DAFs participating in the analysis granted an estimated $34 billion to charitable organizations in 2020, up 27 percent from 2019. Separately, the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy released a report on DAFs titled, Giving USA Special Report - Donor Advised Funds: New Insights. Among the findings, the report states that total grants from DAF sponsoring organizations in the sample nearly doubled from 2014 ($9.9 billion) to 2018 ($18.7 billion).
- Pandemic Risk Insurance Act: Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) re-introduced a modified version of the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA) to provide policyholders relief from costs resulting from the cancellations of events caused by a pandemic. PRIA would require insurers that provide insurance for event cancellations due to certain occurrences like speaker cancellation or building closures to also provide insurance for event cancellations due to pandemics. Nonprofits are explicitly listed in the definition of persons covered by the bill, and “charity events” are included as events that may be eligible for business interruption losses. See Representative Maloney’s press release.
- Providing Input on Tax-Exempt Organization Forms: The Internal Revenue Service issued a notice and request for comments on tax-exempt organization forms, notably Forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, and 990-PF, as well as regulations, notices, and Treasury Decisions affecting tax-exempt organizations. Specifically, the IRS is seeking input on taxpayer compliance burdens that the Service defines as “the time and money taxpayers spend to comply with their tax filing responsibilities.” These include “recordkeeping, tax planning, gathering tax materials, learning about the law and what you need to do, and completing and submitting the return,” plus out-of-pocket costs. Public comments are due November 30, 2021.
Support the Universal Charitable Deduction
The universal charitable (non-itemizer) deduction will expire at the end of the year unless Congress takes action to extend it. The giving incentive for individuals who take the standard deduction was created – on a bipartisan basis – in the early days of the pandemic to generate additional donations to support the work of charitable organizations. It was increased at the end of 2020 to the current level of $300 for individuals and $600 for couples, but is set to expire on December 31, 2021. The Charitable Giving Coalition, a diverse group representing thousands of charitable nonprofits across the country, encourages nonprofits to sign onto a letter urging congressional leaders to support expanding and extending the universal charitable deduction in year-end legislation. Go here to read the letter and sign on.
Special Sessions Continue to Address Vaccination and Masking
More state legislatures are going into a special session to consider issues including, but not limited to, vaccination and masking, while others have wrapped up with their Governors signing vaccination-restricting laws. Earlier this month, Alabama Governor Ivey signed a bill to exempt vaccination as a condition of employment in the public sector. Tennessee Governor Lee signed the COVID-19 special session omnibus bill that is expected to have a major impact on the ability of for-profit and nonprofit employers to require masks or vaccines. The new law mandates that employers may not require proof of vaccination, employees who are terminated because they refuse to get vaccinated remain eligible for unemployment benefits (including retroactively), and employers can be sued by an individual to stop a vaccine or mask requirement. A Utah bill on vaccine exemptions, which would give employees exemptions from vaccine mandates and require employers to pay for on-site testing, passed in the Legislature and now heads to Governor Cox’s office for his signature. In North Dakota’s special session, 19 bills were sent to Governor Burgum’s desk after a five-day session, including a measure to restrict vaccination mandates by providing exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Florida and Idaho special sessions begin November 15 and are expected to address COVID-19 vaccination mandates and masking requirements.
Governments Relying on Public Input
State and local governments continue to investigate the best ways to invest funds from the American Rescue Plan Act by asking for people in their communities to provide input. Rhode Island created an ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Fund Recommendation Portal to increase transparency on how it spends the state’s ARPA allocations. The portal will post all ideas and proposals received regarding use of ARPA funds. Cumberland County, Maine, released a Pre-Application for ARPA Funds for grant seekers that aims to advance “community-driven solutions to recovery that deliver equitable outcomes and transformative change.” Applicants must seek at least $100,000 and the county is prioritizing affordable housing, infrastructure, healthcare, workforce training and homelessness, as well as projects that address regional needs. Vermont’s legislative leaders have scheduled community conversations in five counties and one statewide call. They also released a survey for residents to share what their communities need and provide recommendations on how the state should spend ARPA funds. Read the updated Special Report, Strengthening State and Local Economies in Partnership with Nonprofits, for more ideas on how nonprofits can encourage governments to partner and invest the ARPA funds to support direct impact in the communities they serve.
When in Doubt, Innovate
The resources made available under American Rescue Plan Act to state, local, and Tribal governments, and ultimately to charitable nonprofits, have been called a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address longstanding challenges and improve conditions in communities. But, by definition, once-in-a-generation means few, if any, have experience implementing the opportunity. Few local governments have practices, procedures, or programs already in place to document and spend the new money that’s available. How are communities supposed to come together to make sound investments when there are no experts? By innovating and relying on people who are expert on community needs, of course.
In Maryland, those innovators are working at Maryland Nonprofits to connect governments to workable solutions that create certainty and impact. The state association of nonprofits recently launched a dedicated webpage titled “A Model ARPA Grant Program from Maryland Nonprofits.” The site explains that the “Model Grant Program” is designed to make it easy for governments to develop and manage a grant program – even if they do not have a lot of experience in this area. The model grant process developed by Maryland Nonprofits is customizable; it allows for direct grantmaking or partnering with an intermediary, like a community foundation or charitable trust, to run the process.
Maryland Nonprofits is going the extra mile by also providing training to government officials and to nonprofits about what is available and how to make the case for mission-focused projects and supports.
- A model ARPA grant program, Nov. 17, offers a ARPA workshop for government agencies and intermediaries to help them create a grantmaking process to distribute Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Relief Fund (CSLFRF) resources in their communities.
- A "how-to" guide to prepare and submit government grants, Dec. 2, provides a guide for charitable organizations to become a more successful government grant applicant.
- Developing your ARPA strategy, Dec. 6, focuses on helping nonprofits create their own ARPA strategy, including key actions they can use to influence local governments and state agencies, get prepared for strategic planning and rapid expansion, and to win ARPA funding.
The idea is that by using the process guide and sample attachments – plus the trainings tailored to government officials and to nonprofits - local jurisdictions can quickly set up a grantmaking process or add a layer to their current grantmaking process what works for charitable organizations and ensures that American Rescue Plan Act funds are quickly, efficiently, and equitably distributed in their communities.
Read more examples of Advocacy in Action,
a regular feature of Nonprofit Advocacy Updates.