April 06, 2020
Oregon surpassed the 1,000 positive-tested case mark for COVID-19 on Sunday and this week that number is predicted to continue to increase, but the cumulative efforts we are making are having an impact. Based on the  Oregon Health Authority’s last projections , which shows we hit the 1,000 mark later than expected, and the curve flattening strategies of -staying at home and social distancing are working. As spring bursts forth around the state, it becomes ever more tempting to get “back to normal.” It is critical to maintain the current practices, as painful as they may be, to keep the curve from spiking upward. We at NAO continue to urge only the most essential nonprofits remain open in any place-based programs. Those health and human service nonprofits are regularly receiving instructions from OHA and state agencies on refined protocols for keeping their staff and volunteers safe. Some counties have begun modifying their guidance  around home-made face coverings .

If you are a health or human service nonprofit that is not directly in touch with those state or county-level departments, I urge you to make those connections. If you need assistance, please contact us at NAO and we can help. 
Friday’s PPP Pandemonium
Late in the evening on April 2 nd , the Small Business Administration announced that it had released final details and guidance for the  Payroll Protection Program  (PPP) and signaled the program would “go live” on Friday. The PPP is designed to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. The attraction of these loans is that they are highly forgivable and it is expected that much of the over $350 billion in the PPP will be forgiven, effectively making them grants.

What happened on Friday during the “launch” of the PPP can be described as nothing short of pandemonium. Some banks were reporting they had received access through the portal and were uploading applications, while others were holding off to get clarifications from the SBA. The SBA has also been criticized for issuing conflicting or belated guidance on numerous issues in the loan programs, including how borrowers are supposed to count the total number of employees for determining whether an employer has 500 or fewer employees. For charitable nonprofits, the CARES Act expressly applies strict SBA affiliation rules that require all employees of separate affiliates to be counted as a group if the parent organization can exercise control over the whole. On Friday, SBA issued additional guidance largely exempting  faith-based organizations from the affiliation rules , citing religious freedom and constitutional protections.

NAO has been working with National Council of Nonprofits and Independent Sector on getting clarity, guidance and support for Oregon’s nonprofit sector. In an open letter issued this afternoon addressed to the American Bankers Association and Bank Policy Institute, Independent Sector asked that financial institutions prioritize nonprofits to ensure equitable access to SBA 7(a) loans for those that qualify as part of the CARES Act. Independent Sector has asked that financial institutions prioritize nonprofits to ensure equitable access to SBA 7(a) loans for those that qualify as part of the CARES Act; that they particularly pay attention to small nonprofits, nonprofits run by people of color, and nonprofits serving communities of color and tribal communities; and called on them to see the charitable community as a partner in finding solutions. See Independent Sector’s open letter  here .

There are many  Oregon banks that are qualified to handle the PPP loans  and we have been checking in with several of them.  None of the banks that we reached out to   were able to confirm that they were uploading client applications to the portal, although we did hear from some of you that there were banks with successful uploads on Friday. (Rumors of uploads on Thursday were just that – rumors – as  NO banks  had access at that time.) Most banks are telling us that they are prioritizing their current clients for the applications and they expect to have access and the processes clarified to begin uploads today and tomorrow.

It is important to remember that each bank will have  its own modified processes and applications for this program , so please pay attention to the instructions your bankers are giving you on the details they need to process your applications. 

Don’t lose heart if your organization doesn’t get a PPP loan the first time out! While the $350 billion will go quickly, it is expected that there will be successive tranches of funds through additional federal stimulus packages that will expand the funding for this program.

NAO will be offering an Ask the Experts session tomorrow on Emergency SBA Loans and How Nonprofits Can Access Them. Register here .
Policy Issues
Additional Stimulus and Nonprofit Track in CARES 2.0
It is becoming clearer that the U.S. Congress must enact improvements to the CARES Act, both to ensure that the money does not run out and to correct the law’s inadequacies and mistakes. A new "CARES Act 2.0" legislation is being drafted and nonprofits will be calling on Congress to create a specific  Nonprofit Track  that, among other things:

  1. Establishes dedicated nonprofit funding for the Payroll Protection Program and Mid-Size Business Loans; 
  2. Makes charitable giving incentives retroactive to 2019 and increases the above-the-line deduction; 
  3. Reimburses nonprofits fully for unemployment claims; 
  4. Increases funding for targeted state formula grants and programs; and 
  5. Makes technical corrections that become apparent as nonprofits and governments work to turn legislative language into action.

NAO is working with national umbrella organizations like the National Council of Nonprofits and Independent sector to ensure that these corrections get made in the CARES 2.0 Act.

DOL Unemployment Insurance Guidance : The U.S. Department of Labor announced  guidance on unemployment insurance for states  under the CARES Act in response to COVID-19 last week. The guidance addresses  administration and eligibility criteria  for state unemployment insurance programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. PUA applies to individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time work, or would otherwise not qualify for benefits. FPUC provides an additional $600 per week in federal benefits for individuals typically not covered under unemployment insurance, like workers for nonprofits too small to quality for the state insurance systems. Employees who are laid off by nonprofits may qualify under these additional programs if certain conditions are met.

NAO is tracking a number of initiatives at the state level to ensure that critical funding is flowing to the most vulnerable during this health and economic crisis. These are just a few of the initiatives that we know are in process:

A coalition of human service organizations organized by the  Oregon Alliance of Children’s Programs  have been advocating with the Governor’s office and legislative leadership to take urgent action to ensure that community and nonprofit partners and workforce survive the COVID-19 crisis. As many of you know, critical services to Oregon’s most vulnerable populations depend on the quick action by government to remove barriers to resourcing the most vulnerable populations. A link to that coalition’s work can be found here .

Causa , who works to improve the lives of Latino immigrants and their families in Oregon, is working with a coalition of organizations including  MRG Foundation Capaces  and  PCUN  to create an Oregon Workers Relief Fund. The program is designed to bring support to the over 74,000 Unemployment Insurance-Ineligible immigrant workers living in Oregon. A link to that coalition’s work can be found here .

Now more than ever your voices must be heard by policymakers ! Many legislators and county officials are holding town hall online meetings to hear directly from their constituents. Check with both your state and federal representatives for the next town hall session near you. Your voices are crucial for them to hear at this time. You are welcome to take talking points from any of the policy initiatives that we have already posted on  our COVID-19 resources page .
Other Trainings
Register for Oregon Nonprofits: Survive coronavirus. Create Your New Financial Forecast Scenario For Payroll Protection Program on Thursday, April 9, 2020 from 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. PT. Hear from Max Williams, CEO of Oregon Community Foundation, Jim White, NAO Executive Director, Matt Scott CEO of CauseMic, and Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software on ideas to survive COVID-19 and get free access to LivePlan, an online strategic planning and forecasting tool for 90 days so nonprofits can use it to apply for the Payroll Protection Program. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Register here .

As we move fully into April, keep doing the important work of flattening the curve, be sure to get your PPP applications in with your lender, and advocate on behalf of  ALL  our communities across Oregon.
Jim White
Executive Director
Thank you to the following SPONSORS and FUNDERS who are supporting NAO’s online COVID-19 events and communications during these challenging times. Their support is vital in helping NAO to bring much-needed resources and information to Oregon’s nonprofits – thank you.