March 13, 2020

General update

On March 13 afternoon President Trump declared a national state of emergency, which results in significant moves in the fight against COVID-19 and releases up to $50 billion in federal resources. The national state of emergency removes constraints to allow for the containment and mitigation of the spread of COVID-19. The president announced an unprecedented public-private partnership with numerous pharmaceutical, testing, and technology companies proactively leaning forward into mobilizing all resources possible for the health and safety of all in our communities.

Last night Oregon Gov. Brown ordered all Oregon K-12 schools to close from March 16 through March 31. The order came after several school districts chose to proactively close schools and Oregon Health Authority reported new COVD-19 cases in the state. Earlier on March 12, Oregon Gov. Brown announced banning organized gatherings of 250 people, many counties and municipalities have also declared states of emergency, and health authorities urged all Oregonians to implement social distancing as much as possible for everyone’s health and safety, and to help slow the pace of the virus. See NAO’s March 12 communication.
Public policy and advocacy in response to COVID-19

At the state level, on March 12 NAO reached out to Gov. Brown’s office to request that nonprofit voices are at the table not only regarding the state’s response to the COVID-19 situation, but also for discussions regarding the resulting business impact on the nonprofit sector, including lost income and wages. We encourage you to tell your own stories to the Governor’s office and please continue to send us your stories of the work that you are doing and the impacts that this pandemic is having on your communities, work and nonprofit business. Please be as specific as possible. Send your thoughts to: executivedirector@nonprofitoregon.org

At the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives is working on a bill, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, that would provide free coronavirus testing, extended unemployment insurance, and funding for nutrition programs and Medicaid. It would also create a paid emergency leave program for individuals and families affected by COVID-19. The current version would mandate employers provide 14 days of paid leave and reimburse smaller employers, both nonprofit and for-profit alike, for these costs. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appear to be close to agreeing on a bipartisan alternative bill that reportedly would replace a paid leave mandate with an employer tax credit valued at 90 percent of the costs of leave. Reports suggest that in a potential agreement, nonprofit employers and perhaps others would be able to redeem the tax credit to pay payroll taxes that they owe. At this writing, however, the House is still planning to vote on the original bill, which is expected to pass on a party-line vote. The H.R. 6201 summary is here and the legislative text is here. The Senate plans to remain in session next week, so the details of a response package could change in the coming hours or days.

NAO continues to work with the National Council of Nonprofits at the federal level to make sure that Oregon nonprofits’ voices are represented and important steps are taken to include nonprofits and our employees in any aid or stimulus packages. Any incentive or reimbursement will be redeemable by nonprofits (and maybe others) by applying a tax credit against payroll taxes. That was the first “Policy Solution” in the nonprofit letter they sent to legislators. 
Engaging regional funders to support Oregon’s nonprofits

NAO has reached regional funders through Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington and Philanthropy Northwest and alerted them to the enormous negative impact COVID-19 is already making on our sector and to ask for their support to immediately invest in the work we’re doing, be flexible in how their funds are being used, sand support operations. We are pleased to share that GOSW Executive Director Kendall Clawson has already sent out a communication to their members to begin working on how funders can support Oregon and Southwest Washington’s nonprofits. 

We continue to advocate and work hard on Oregon’s nonprofits’ behalf. You can find a copy of NAO’s Open Letter to Funders and Philanthropists here. We want to hear from you on how COVID-19 is impacting your organizations. How is your nonprofit being impacted, what are the challenges your nonprofit is having to deal with, and where what information and resources to you need. Send us your thoughts to: executivedirector@nonprofitoregon.org

We strongly encourage you to continue to follow the advice of public health officials and the government, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, practice social distancing, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We will continue to update our Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page.

We know that many nonprofits are on the frontline in situations such as this and that Oregonians rely on you to help support our communities, especially the vulnerable and those who need support. Thank you for all you do in our communities especially during this very challenging time. 

Sincerely,
Jim White
Executive Director