September 11, 2020
Hello Nonprofit Leaders and Supporters,

The terrible fires that are raging across our state feel nothing short of cataclysmic. For most of us, these fires mean strange yellow and orange skies, and possibly some smoke blown into our communities. For nearly 500,000 of our fellow Oregonians that have either been forced to evacuate or our under threat, these fires are nothing short of tragic. Communities across our state have been shattered. From Detroit Lake, Gates and Mill City to Talent, Phoenix and Medford; along south Highway 97 near Chiloquin and east of Springfield in Blue River and Vida, communities have been devastated. Fires are raging across Clackamas and Marion counties in the Estacada, Molalla, and Colton areas. We send our heartfelt prayers and condolences to those that have lost loved ones, homes and businesses. We are aware a number of nonprofits have been seriously impacted as well and the true impact of these fires may not be known for weeks or even months.

In this tragedy, we are inspired by the hard work of so many in our communities in support of each other. With an estimated 40 fires burning in Oregon, we appreciate the hard work of firefighters, first responders, and others in trying to contain these conflagrations. We deeply appreciate the quick response of our nonprofit members in support of those most impacted by the fires. The American Red Cross is offering temporary evacuation and shelter locations for those who have been displaced. The food banks and pantries, including the Oregon Food Bank and its partners across our communities, have responded with food support. Along the lines of these fires, so many nonprofits are jumping in to help. Organizations like Greenhill Humane Society in Eugene is responding in the care and feeding for animals impacted by the fires.

Our foundation partners have jumped in to support these efforts in a big way. Right now, we know that The Ford Family Foundation has already awarded grants totaling about $225,000 right away to emergency response funds. They told us they are in connection with many of their rural community builders across the state and are steadfastly committed to support the rural communities of Oregon for the long recovery yet to come. 

The United Ways in Jackson CountyLane CountyUnited Way of the Columbia-Willamette and others United Ways around our communities have started Wildfire Relief Funds and are coordinating regional responses by their nonprofit partners. Rather than establishing a separate relief fund, the Oregon Community Foundation is providing information (including links to the various United Ways in impacted communities) on its website about which organizations are supporting wildfire relief efforts to get resources to communities as quickly as possible. 

In addition, as MRG Foundation continues funding organizations and efforts that are focused on BIPOC, Immigrant, Tribal communities, and social/racial justice organizations, MRG Foundation is holding wildfire relief funds that focus on equity.

Currently, we are working closely with our partners at the Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington to ensure that we are not only sharing important information with and about the response of nonprofits and philanthropy during this crisis. As the membership associations for philanthropy and the nonprofit communities, we are prepared to be an information conduit about fire relief and other community efforts throughout Oregon. If your nonprofit is responding to communities impacted by the fires, please let us know what you are doing. We want to keep updating each other and our foundation. Send us a quick message to me at:
What Your Nonprofit Can Do

As we face these wildfire threats, I want to remind you to be ready to evacuate if the order is given and ensure your staff and volunteers are ready as well. Keep them and your nonprofits as safe and ready as possible! Here are some helpful steps and resources to use and stay updated:

  • Most importantly – Stay Calm. Your family, team and the community needs your leadership now. I know that this is going to be tough on the heels of the months of COVID-19 stress, but try to fight the urge to give into this additional stressor. You can do this!

  • Keep track of wildfires near you. Sign up for emergency notifications. Most counties in Oregon have a network that you can sign up to receive alerts in case you need to evacuate. Here is an example for the area of the Upper Willamette Valley. You can also track Oregon Smoke Information updates via an interactive map with the locations of current fires and the latest information about air quality advisories.

  • Have an established phone tree within your organization to keep each other aware of changes in your team’s situation. Because so many of us are working from home we may not be in direct communication as frequently. Be sure to check in with all team members once a day to see if anything has changed for them. Make sure everyone understands to prioritize getting to safety if an evacuation order is called, but once in a safe location, to alert your organization on the changes in their status and location.

We sincerely hope that these fires are contained quickly and that those impacted can receive the services and support they need as quickly as possible. We know that nonprofits are at the forefront of that support. As Oregon deals with these horrendous wildfires, we don’t want to forget that today is the 19th anniversary of September 11, 2001 and we pause for a minute to remember all those who lost their lives. Thank you for everything you’re doing to help our communities now. 
At the Federal Level

In response to the wildfires, Governor Brown invoked the Fire Conflagration Act for the entire state, which gives the state fire marshal the authority to direct resources wherever they are needed most. She also directed the state office of emergency management to request a federal emergency declaration, which would bring more resources from the federal government. Oregon's U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, with U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici, requested rapid approval of Oregon Governor Brown's request for federal disaster relief. Yesterday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Riverside Fire in Clackamas County, the South Obenchain Fire in Jackson County, and the Archie Creek Fire in Douglas County, Oregon. 

“Skinny” Bill for COVID-19 Relief fails in Senate

The so-called “skinny bill” (actually the “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act”) put forward by the Senate Republicans failed yesterday  by a vote of 52 to 47 in the Senate. The bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

The biggest news in that legislation was the inclusion of improvements to the Above-the-Line Deduction in Title IX, Section 9001 starting on page 207. Here are key provisions worth raising here, as they may be carried forward to future relief bills.

  • Liability Relief: Includes the HEALS Act liability protections for “hospitals healthcare workers, small and large businesses, schools, colleges and universities, religious, philanthropic and other nonprofit institutions, and local government agencies.” Title II

  • Unemployment Compensation: Calls for extending $300/week increased unemployment benefits. Does not include increased federal reimbursement for benefits paid to employees of self-insured employers. Title III

  • Paycheck Protection Program: The bill retains the language setting up a second round of PPP loans, limited to employers with 300 or fewer employees that experienced a decline in “gross receipts” of at least 35% in a quarter in 2020 compared to the same 2019 quarter; retains an unworkable definition of “gross receipts” found in earlier drafts. Caps second round loans at $2 million. Simplifies loan forgiveness process for current and future PPP borrowers receiving loans of $150,000 or less. Cost of title estimated at $257.7 billion. Title IV

  • U.S. Postal Service: Forgives $10 billion in CARES Act loan. Title V

  • Education and Childcare: The title would authorize temporary spending provided in the appropriations section of the bill. Further, the title would allow parents of K-12 student at public, private, or religious schools to use 529 plan funds for expenses like books, online materials, licensed tutoring; permits homeschooling parents to use 529 plan funds for educational expenses. Title VI

  • Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension: The bill would extend the deadline to Sept 30, 2021 for spending already appropriated CRF money, but wouldn’t provide additional flexibility or funding. Title VIII

  • Above-the-Line Deduction: The bill would increase the universal deduction in the CARES Act from $300 per tax return to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples filing jointly. It would also increase from 20% to 50% the excise tax charged when non-itemizing taxpayers overstate the amount donated. Deduction and penalty provisions would apply in 2020 only. Title IX

  • Appropriations: The bill calls for spending $105 on education; $16 billion for testing, contact tracing, and surveillance in states; $31 billion for vaccine, therapeutic and diagnostic development, and stockpiling; $20.5 billion in farm and fishing assistance; $5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant; and $10 billion for Back to Work Child Care Grants.

Our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington, D.C. are telling us that it remains to be seen whether the Senate action this week will help jumpstart bipartisan negotiations or serve as talking points on the campaign trail in October. 

Last week, Tim Delaney, President and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits reiterated our sector’s calls for quick action in passing a new stimulus package in an article published in The Hill. Yesterday, the Washington Post weighed in as well. In The economy needs another round of fiscal support. Congress’s impasse has to end., the Post explains the need for a significant relief package, rejects “the case for going small” with the Senate Republican bill, rebukes both parties for sticking with demands that may no longer be relevant, and insists that the parties come together again to support the economy, “and soon.”

We’ll continue to keep you posted on how this plays out…

2020 Census

Court Blocks President’s EO: A federal court ruled on Thursday that President Trump's order to exclude undocumented immigrants from census numbers for apportioning congressional districts is unlawful. A unanimous three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said in its decision that the President’s executive memorandum violates the executive branch's "constitutional responsibility to count the whole number of persons in each State and to apportion members of the House of Representatives among the States according to their respective numbers." The ruling prohibits the Department of Commerce from reporting any information regarding undocumented immigrants in its census count that could be used to implement the president's directive. Court blocks Trump order to exclude undocumented immigrants from census, Harper Neidig, The Hill, Sept. 10, 2020.

Hearing on Census Deadlines: Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing today on the 2020 Census entitled: Providing the Census Bureau with the Time to Produce a Complete and Accurate Census. The Democrats focused on the need for more time to conduct and analyze the census data, as well as the negative effects of an undercount. Republicans focused on use of citizenship data to enforce the Voting Rights Act and on not including noncitizens for apportionment purposes. Chair Maloney’s (D-NY) opening remarksimplored Congress to act, “The Senate should do what the Trump Administration originally requested and what the career professionals at the Census Bureau need: pass legislation to extend these deadlines and ensure a full, fair, and accurate census for our country.”

Senate Action on Census: Yesterday, Senators Wyden and Merkley joined a group of 17 other Senators sent a letter calling on the Census Bureau to provide more details on how they plan to use data from the 2020 Census to apportion congressional representation. “With the president’s unconstitutional memorandum excluding undocumented people from apportionment, coupled with your agency’s decision to end the 2020 Census count one month early, we also raise serious concerns about a fair and accurate distribution of congressional representation,” the Senators wrote. See the news release from Senator Schatz (D-HI) for more details.

Schatz/Murkowski bill: There is still time to endorse the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, standalone legislation from Sens. Schatz (D-HI) and Murkowski (R-AK) on the extension of the census deadlines and require that nonresponse follow-up and self-response collection will end no earlier than Oct. 31. NAO along with the National Council of Nonprofits and many of our colleague state associations have signed on. If you would like to add your organization’s name, please Contact Trelaine Ito at Senator Schatz’s office.

Above-the-Line Deduction: Earlier this week, Senator Lankford (R-OK) issued a news release acknowledging the inclusion of an improved above-the-line deduction in the Republican targeted or “skinny” stimulus bill. He states, “It is good policy to incentivize giving to local entities that care for our neighbors since non-profits and houses of worship are much more efficient and more personal as they care for families in crisis.” After summarizing the provision (Section 9001) in the bill, Senator Lankford highlights his work in support of charitable nonprofits, listing his Joint Economic Committee testimony on this issue in June, the Lankford/King letter in May in support of the nonprofit policy priorities, and his work with Senator Coons (D-DE) to repeal the tax on nonprofit transportation benefits.
Upcoming Online Sessions

In case you missed our earlier announcement, NAO has made the decision, to hold off on convening our 20120-2021 in-person networks that we usually launch in the fall of each year. Instead, we will extend the strategy deployed in mid-March when COVID-19 restrictions were first put in place to hold online sessions – free of charge to participants - until such time that the State of Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority lift restrictions on in-person gatherings. We thank our supporting foundations, corporate sponsors and members for making this possible.  Here is what we’ve got coming up over the next few weeks:

Resource Development Planning & Prioritizing During Uncertainty, Tuesday, September 17, 10 – 11 a.m. PT:  Nonprofit leaders are facing a high degree of uncertainty as COVID-19 has disrupted every facet of our work and lives. For those with the responsibility to lead your organization's resource development strategy and implementation, that means finding new sources of funding, adopting new methods for virtual donor engagement, and maximizing your donor database. Planning may seem counterintuitive given all of the unknowns. Now, more than ever, your organization needs a resource development plan in place that provides a roadmap that you can adapt and manage during this uncertainty. Laurel McCombs, Senior Philanthropy Consultant of The Osborne Group will lead a practical, fast-paced session to discuss what you need to do now to get your plan in place and take control of your fundraising priorities for your mission success. Register for the session here.
Collaborative Fundraising: Moving From Scarcity to Abundance, Wednesday, September 30, 9 – 10 a.m. PT: Fundraising doesn't have to be a competitive sport. There are times when multiple organizations, working together, can raise a lot more money collectively. Join Andy Robinson, Principal at Andy Robinson Consulting, who will dive into the specifics of shared fundraising, including: options for collaborative fundraising, why donors and funders appreciate this approach, sorting out the work, dividing up the money, and fundraising with unexpected partners. Register for the session here

The Impact of COVID-19 on Oregon Charitable Nonprofits, Thursday, October 1, Noon – 1 p.m. PT: Grace L. Chikoto-Schultz, PhD, Assistant Professor at Portland State University and Jim White, Executive Director at NAO will share the findings of the COVID-19 Impacts on Oregon charitable nonprofits survey conducted in June. The survey was aimed at quantifying the challenges nonprofits are facing. The findings underscore not only the importance of the nonprofit sector at this time, but also the pain these organizations are feeling and the hope and concerns they have for the future. Join Grace and Jim for a discussion about what these findings mean for the sector as we chart a path forward through this uncertainty and COVID-19 crisis. Register for the session here.
Upswell 2020, October 14-16, 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. PT: Independent Sector’s Upswell 2020 is about two most important things facing every changemaker in the U.S.: ending racism and recovering from the pandemic. How we deal with these monumental challenges – in this utterly urgent moment in our shared history – will determine nothing less than the future of our nation. It sure won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be perfect. But our efforts will be existentially necessary. So, we’re inviting you to show up! Claim your agency. Elevate your ideas. Amplify your voice. Get creative, innovative, passionate, and relentlessly determined. Because it’s going to take the very best you’ve got – and the very best the rest of us have got – to heal our nation and create a society where every person can thrive. To find out more about Upswell, click here. Register for Upswell here.

QuickBooks Made Easy Webinar: Desktop, November 10, 11, and 12, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. PT: Gregg S. Bossen, CPA of QuickBooks Made Easy, is partnering with NAO to offer an updated three-part QuickBooks® training webinar for nonprofits. This webinar is for the Desktop edition of QuickBooks. Gregg will cover the basics of setting up and entering transactions specifically for nonprofits, an overview of the software updates included in the QuickBooks® 2020 Desktop Edition, as well as advanced topics covering a host of specific processes that will help you do more helpful and amazing things! Register for the three-part webinar here.

QuickBooks Made Easy Webinar: Online, November 17, 18, and 19, 11 a.m. – 1 pm. PT: Gregg S. Bossen, CPA of QuickBooks Made Easy, is partnering with NAO to offer an updated three-part QuickBooks® training webinar for nonprofits. This webinar is for the Online edition of QuickBooks. Gregg will cover the basics of setting up and entering transactions specifically for nonprofits, an overview of the software updates included in the QuickBooks® 2020 Online Edition, as well as advanced topics covering a host of specific processes that will help you do more helpful and amazing things! Register for the three-part webinar here.
I hope that you all stay safe and healthy!

Jim White
Executive Director
Thank you to the following SUPPORTERS and SPONSORS 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.