August 21, 2020
Note: The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits typically provides Nonprofit Policy Matters each week as a benefit to its nonprofit members. However, to help all North Carolina nonprofits respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we're temporarily providing this newsletter to non-member nonprofits.
In this issue...
U.S. Senate considers scaled-down COVID-19 relief 
Act now: Be certain everyone you know completes the Census questionnaire  
U.S. Senate proposal would simplify PPP loan forgiveness for many nonprofits
U.S. Postal Service delays controversial operational changes
Business leaders raise concerns about President Trump’s payroll tax deferral
NC Job Retention Grants application open for nonprofits through September 1
Local governments may have resources for COVID-19 relief for nonprofits
National Voter Registration Day is a month away
Free resources and support for nonpartisan voter registration and voter education
U.S. Senate Considers Scaled-Down COVID-19 Relief
After negotiations broke down between the White House and congressional leaders over additional COVID-19 relief earlier this month, congressional leaders are considering new options to provide help to individuals, nonprofits, and businesses that are struggling as a result of the pandemic. This week, leadership in the U.S. Senate released a plan for scaled-down COVID-19 relief legislation. Highlights of the proposal include:
  • Paycheck Protection Program. The proposal would provide $150 billion in new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It would simplify loan forgiveness for many nonprofits that have already received PPP loans. It also would allow nonprofits with 300 or fewer employees that experienced at least a 35% decline in gross revenues during the first or second quarters of 2020 to receive a second PPP loan, which would be partially forgivable. The proposed definition of “gross receipts” might be problematic for many nonprofits since it excludes many government and foundation grants.
  • Unemployment Insurance. The Senate proposal would provide for $300 per week in supplemental unemployment insurance (UI) for workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19 (i.e. were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic or they are sick or caring for someone with COVID-19). These unemployed workers had received $600 per week in supplemental UI benefits through July. Expanded federal UI benefits are particularly important to North Carolinians who are out of work since our state UI benefits, which are capped at $350 per week, are among the lowest in the country. 
  • Liability Protections. The proposal would limit liability for nonprofits and businesses for personal injuries arising from alleged COVID-19 exposure at their facilities. This provision would complement a recent state law that provides limited immunity for nonprofits, businesses, and individuals (including nonprofit volunteers and board members) from claims of transmission of COVID-19. Many nonprofits have expressed concern about the possibility of legal liability if someone who has been in their facilities contracts COVID-19 and sues the nonprofit. This is a particular concern since many insurance providers are excluding COVID-19 claims from coverage.
  • USPS Funding. The Senate proposal would provide an additional $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service.

Notably, the latest proposal does not address some of the pressing needs of nonprofits such as strengthening the universal charitable deduction and providing needed funding for state and local governments and nonprofits providing services during the pandemic. If Congress is unable to reach an agreement on COVID-19 relief by the end of next month, the Senate could include this limited proposal in the continuing resolution that will be needed to fund many parts of the federal government beyond September 30.
Act Now: Be Certain Everyone You Know Completes the Census Questionnaire
The U.S. Census Bureau is ending its in-person operations on September 30, a month earlier than what the Bureau previously said would be necessary to ensure a complete and accurate count of all Americans in light of the delays stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. September 30 will also be the deadline for households to self-respond to the Census by mail, email, or phone.

A new analysis from Carolina Demography provides more details about why an early end to the Census count is particularly problematic in North Carolina. Currently, more than 40% of North Carolina households still have not replied to the Census. A massive undercount could cost North Carolina billions of dollars in federal funding for public schools, childcare, health care, affordable housing, food assistance, and many other programs over the next decade. It also could cost North Carolina a 14th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.

The call to action for nonprofit staff, volunteers, and board members is simple: Remind everyone you know to be certain that someone in their household has completed the Census questionnaire. For households that have not yet completed the Census questionnaire, there is still time to respond online, by mail, by phone, or through an in-person visit from a Census Bureau representative.
U.S. Senate Proposal Would Simplify PPP Loan Forgiveness for Many Nonprofits
Earlier this summer, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and three other U.S. Senators introduced the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act (S. 4117), which would forgive PPP loans of up to $150,000 with the filing of a one-page attestation form. Nearly half of the 2,000+ North Carolina nonprofits that responded to a recent survey from the Center and the NC Office of State Budget and Management received PPP loans. The vast majority of these organizations received $150,000 or less in PPP funding and would benefit from this proposal. Financial experts estimate that this bill would save PPP borrowers billions of dollars in compliance costs. This week, the Center joined the National Council of Nonprofits and three other state associations (the home states of the bill’s other primary sponsors) in endorsing the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act.
U.S. Postal Service Delays Controversial Operational Changes
On Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced that it would delay its proposed operational changes – which could lead to significant delays in mail delivery – until after the November election. These operational changes include reduction in hours at post offices, closure of some mail processing facilities, and elimination of some mail collection boxes and mail processing equipment. Many nonprofits have expressed concerns that these changes could jeopardize the ability of USPS to handle absentee ballots in this fall’s election and could cause significant delays in nonprofits’ communications with their donors. 
Business Leaders Raise Concerns about President Trump’s Payroll Tax Deferral
Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump took several executive actions in an attempt to provide economic relief to some individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these actions would defer payroll tax obligations from September 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. This Presidential memorandum leaves many unanswered questions for nonprofits and their employees about the logistics and implications of the payroll tax deferrals. There are also concerns that this action may create funding shortfalls for Social Security and Medicare (the programs funded through payroll taxes) and that employers will need to payer higher payroll taxes in early 2021 as a result of deferring their taxes this fall. 

This week, a group of 30 business associations sent a letter to Congress and the U.S. Department of Treasury raising concerns about the payroll tax deferral and seeking a path forward that provides relief to families without imposing a large tax bill in the future. The associations call the executive order “unworkable” and explain that many businesses “will likely decline to implement deferral, choosing instead to continue to withhold and remit to the government the payroll taxes required by law.”
NC Job Retention Grant Application Open for Nonprofits Through Sept. 1
The NC Department of Commerce has opened its application for the Job Retention Grant program. This new $15 million grant program is open to businesses and nonprofits that: (1) maintained 90% of payroll during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) had at least a 10% reduction in gross receipts from the same period in 2019; and (3) did not receive federal loans through the Paycheck Protection Program or the Main Street Lending Program. The Center worked with legislators to ensure that nonprofits would be eligible for this job retention grant program. The deadline for applications is September 1.

For more information on the Job Retention Grants program, check out the new FAQs from the NC Department of Commerce and the recording of the informational webinar hosted by the Center earlier this month. The NC Department of Commerce encourages nonprofits to review the required documents and information before beginning the application.
Local Governments May Have Resources for COVID-19 Relief for Nonprofits
In the past few weeks, the City of Charlotte has used $1 million of its CARES Act funding to provide COVID-19 relief for arts and cultural organizations and Guilford County created a $500,000 relief fund for arts nonprofits. As Arts North Carolina explains, this is not just good news for arts organizations in Charlotte and Guilford County, but potentially for nonprofits throughout the state since all 100 North Carolina counties and many cities have access to CARES Act funding. The Arts North Carolina blog post includes suggestions for ways arts organizations and other nonprofits can advocate for local government officials to use some of this money to provide business interruption grants to support to their organizations during the pandemic.
National Voter Registration Day Is a Month Away
National Voter Registration Day (September 22) is just over a month away! National Voter Registration Day is a great opportunity for nonprofits to ensure that their staff, volunteers, and community members are registered to vote. Sign up to join the nationwide effort to register hundreds of thousands of voters on September 22. As an official partner, your nonprofit will receive a free voter registration kit and access to other opportunities to support your nonpartisan voter registration work.

Nonprofit VOTE is offering a free webinar on Wednesday, September 2 at 2 p.m. with tips on how your organization can promote your National Voter Registration Day event.
Free Resources and Support for Nonpartisan Voter Registration and Voter Education
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many nonprofits to rethink their plans for in-person voter registration and voter education work this year. To help North Carolina nonprofits navigate the changing landscape of nonpartisan voter registration and voter education, You Can Vote recently launched its Voting Rights Champion program. This program provides accurate, easy-to-read, bilingual (English/Spanish) resources on voter registration and the election process in North Carolina. Become a Voting Rights Champion to get access to free resources and support to ensure that voters in your nonprofit’s community can successfully cast their ballots this fall.

You Can Vote also has prepared a Voter FAQ that provides clear, accurate, and nonpartisan answers to a variety of common questions about the 2020 election process in North Carolina. The FAQ includes answers to common questions about absentee voting by mail (it will be very popular this year), the process for requesting an absentee ballot (it’s best to start the process sooner rather than later!), photo ID (not required this year), and voter fraud (it’s extremely rare). The Center encourages all nonprofits to read these FAQs and share them with their staff, boards, volunteers, and the people they serve.
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Nonprofit Policy Matters is a weekly newsletter for current members of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits. We track state and federal policy issues that affect all 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Learn about the Center's public policy priorities. For more information, contact David Heinen, Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy.