COVID-19 Update: Click Here

PHILANTHROPIC AND GOVERNMENT RELIEF FOR NON-PROFITS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Philanthropic and governments across Massachusetts are setting up funds to support organizations and communities that have been impacted by the coronavirus. See below for a list of funds.

https://www.massachusettsinjurylawyer-blog.com/files/2020/04/Nonprofit.IMAGE_-300x225.jpeg

Additional philanthropic funds can be found on Philanthropy Massachusetts’s website here.

FEDERAL AND STATE POLICY UPDATES

Federal and state government policy relief efforts are underway, and MNN is engaged in communication and advocacy at all levels to ensure that nonprofits are included in any appropriations and other relief policies. Read our full initial list of policy recommendations here, and about MNN’s policy response here

MNN will be making regular updates to the COVID-19 Policy Response section of its blog here.

Below is a list of state and federal policy developments to date.

Federal Policy Updates

Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act

On March 27, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act. The legislation would provide emergency funding for nonprofits and create a universal charitable deduction. The representatives are also advocating for nonprofits of any size to qualify for newly-expanded Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Read our blog here for more detailed information.

The SOS America Act would:

  • Expressly provide charitable nonprofits with $60B for any emergency funding proposals. The bill provides for $60 billion in emergency support for charitable nonprofits and a mechanism to rapidly infuse cash to those organizations serving immediate needs in communities facing lost and declining revenue due to the pandemic.
  • Create a robust universal charitable deduction.Improve the proposed above-the-line charitable deduction of the CARES Act (which set a $300 cap) by significantly raising the cap and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on their 2019 taxes and beyond.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

On March 27, the President signed into law the CARES Act. Below are three significant pieces of this bill that impact nonprofits. For a full analysis on the implications of this Act on nonprofits, read the National Council of Nonprofits’ analysis on the MNN’s COVID-19 Policy Response blog here.

  • Emergency Small Business Loans (emergency SBA 7(a) loans): Provides funding for special emergency loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits and small businesses, permitting them to cover costs of payroll, operations, and debt service, and provides that the loans be forgiven in whole or in part under certain circumstances. Note: These are in addition to the SBAEconomic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which are available to nonprofits of any size.
    • Update 4/2/20:NOTE: Nonprofits interested in the Paycheck Protection Program loans should apply RIGHT AWAY. Click here for application instructions and resources from TSNE MissionWorks.
    • Update 4/3/20:SBA has announced interim final rules for loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. Click here for more information.
  • Unemployment and Self Insured Nonprofits: Reimburses self-funded nonprofits for one half of the costs of benefits provided to their laid-off employees. This isexplained in a recent blog article.
    • MNN is leading a coalition of associations to advocate for additional state relief/hold harmless for self-insured nonprofits, and a 120-day deferment of payments owed by organizations that self-insure for unemployment. MNN has been working with Senate leaders on  2618which proposes the deferment as an initial step. Click here for a letter sent to the Baker-Polito Administration and legislative leaders.
  • Federal Charitable Giving Incentive: Includes a new above-the-line deduction (universal or non-itemizer deduction that applies to all taxpayers) for total charitable contributions of up to $300. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed by donors on tax forms next year.

Independent Sector has a helpful website on the implications of the CARES Act for small and large nonprofits – click here.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 19, the President signed into law, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill includes a complex set of temporary paid leave mandates and employer reimbursement provisions, as well as funding for free coronavirus testing, food nutrition security, and unemployment extension. For a full analysis on the implications of this Act on nonprofits, read the National Council of Nonprofit’s analysis on the MNN’s COVID-19 Policy Response blog here.

For more information, read these PowerPoint slides from the National Federation of Independent Businesses

On March 24, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the release of initial guidance on the new paid leave law.

U.S. Small Business Administration Federal Disaster Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Massachusetts small businesses and nonprofits of any size suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Apply here.

Loan details:

  • Small businesses, including private non-profit organizations of any size, that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.
  • Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 18, 2020

Federal Grants Flexibility

The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has posted instructions allowing federal agencies to issue exceptions to the grants rules in the OMB Uniform Guidance to remove administrative impediments on services necessary to carry out the emergency response related to COVID-19. The Memo (M-20-11) encourages flexibility in processing renewals of grants, allows looser reimbursement and purchasing standards, and more.

State Policy Updates

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

On March 19, the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation had announced that it was no longer accept applications to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Funds “due to the availability” of funds. Applications are currently being reviewed. The fund was originally given a $10 million infusion. Check Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation’s website here for updates.

Unemployment Insurance Flexibility

Federal and state workforce agencies, and state legislative leaders, are taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers. For background on the policy issues related to nonprofits and unemployment insurance, read more in this blog post.

For assistance with unemployment claims, check the MA Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) COVID-19 website.

Note: DUA is hosting daily virtual town halls to provide assistance and answer questions.  Register for an upcoming town hall here. Find FAQs about COVID-19 related claims here, and a contact request form for additional questions here.

To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, on March 18, 2020, the Baker administration signed into law emergency legislation that allows new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.

The MA Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development is also filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. The following conditions apply:

  • Workers must remain in contact with their employer during the shutdown.
  • Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do.
  • An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shut-down to eight weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
  • If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers.

See more information on unemployment and other employment issues here.

Note: Pending federal legislation proposes further relief, including additional money for unemployment benefits, and relief to employers for charges related to unemployment benefits paid due to COVID-19.

Governor Baker Issues Shelter-in-Place Advisory, Closes Non-Essential Businesses Until May 4

On Monday, March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued a shelter-in-place advisory, closed all non-essential businesses, and issued other important updates. The advisory was later extended until May 4. For more information, click here.

ACTIONS AND RESOURCES FOR NONPROFITS

How might the outbreak affect nonprofits?
As key service providers and organizations in frequent contact with the community, nonprofits may potentially face these and other impacts:

  • increased and sustained staff and volunteer absences;
  • disruption of services to your clients and communities;
  • disruption of supplies or services provided by your partners;
  • cancellation of programs or events (and corresponding reduced revenue);
  • increased demand for services/support from your clients and communities; and
  • budgetary implications related to strains on the economy.

What can nonprofits in Massachusetts do to respond?
Nonprofits should consider rescheduling or canceling programs or events, revisiting their work from home and sick leave policies, and thinking through ways to effectively communicate COVID-related updates with employees and other stakeholders. Nonprofits should also stay informed throughout the duration of the outbreak from reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Rescheduling or cancelling programs or events
Effective Sunday, March 15, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has banned gatherings of over 25 people. The order also banned in-house consumption in restaurants and bars, and closed public schools for the next three weeks (until April 5). Nonprofits should familiarize themselves with the full language of the ban here and stay up to date with news reports.

Additional considerations for rescheduling or cancelling programs and events include:

Revisit work from home and sick leave policies
Nonprofits may be considering adjustments to or implementations of a work from home policy out of concern for their employees’ health. Nonprofits should:

Communicate
Nonprofits play an important role in educating and reassuring employees, volunteers, and other stakeholders.

  • Talk with your team. Reassure your team that you care about their health and safety.
  • Make telecommuting options available for as many employees as possible. For businesses in which telecommuting is not an option or for particular duties that cannot be performed remotely, follow poper steps above to limit close contact, and prevent the spread of disease.
  • Urge employees to stay home if sick.
  • Promote good hygiene (washing hands frequently, covering coughs, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, etc.).
  • Remind employees of your organization’s policies related to illness and sick leave, and be flexible with sick leave benefits for those who are ill or who are recommended to stay home because they are high risk.
  • Place posters that encouragestaying home when sickcough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.
  • Be mindful that different members of your team may perceive the threat differently or have special concerns based on their life circumstances. For example, persons with elderly family members may be especially concerned, and Asian Americans are likely facing increased racism. Leaders should be prepared to recognize, respond to and prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and be sure to maintain confidentiality regarding the health of specific employees. Speak out if you see this happening. (Seattle & King County Public Health developed a great infographic.)
  • Read the Communications Network’s free “Coronavirus Crisis Communications Triage Kit” for how to communicate about the disease clearly, accurately, and effectively.

Travel
As of Friday, March 13, the CDC has issued a Level 3 travel notice (avoid all non-essential travel) for China, Iran, South Korea, and European countries, and a Level 2 notice (older or chronically ill individuals should consider postponing) for Japan. The Trump Administration instituted additional restrictions on travel from China, Iran, and Europe. Nonprofits should:

  • Postpone or cancel business-related travel to countries with travel notices or restrictions and seek alternative means of achieving the purpose of the trip.
  • Continue to monitor the CDC and other health organizations for updates on and exercise reasonable judgment in determining the best course of action for employee work travel. There are no current domestic travel restrictions.
  • Note that employers may not prohibit employees from personal travel. However, they may impose restrictions on employees returning from affected areas or potentially exposed to the virus, such as a two-week work-from-home or leave arrangement.

Stay informed

Other resources

  • MNN affiliate members are hosting free webinars for nonprofits to assist them with COVID-19 related impacts. Click herefor a listing that’s updated daily.
  • Nonprofit Resources List “#NPCOVID19” – open-sourced Google documentcontaining additional resources, tools, and more to help nonprofits respond to COVID-19.
  • JazzHR, an online hiring platform, is now offering free services for free essential care providers.Learn more.
  • Hemenway and Barnes – how to hold a member meeting when you can’t meet in person

Resources for individuals needing assistance

  • Mass211– free hotline available 24/7 that connects Massachusetts residents with assistance programs. Dial “2-1-1”
  • FoodSource Hotline– free hotline available through Project Bread that provides referrals to food banks and pantries across Massachusetts. Dial “1-800-377-1292”
  • MassLegalHelp– resources from Massachusetts legal aid programs to help residents with legal matters.
  • The Phoenix– offering live-streamed classes for people looking for addiction recovery services.

 

Contact Information