October 16, 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 crisis, we're temporarily providing this newsletter to non-member nonprofits.
In this issue...
Voting tip of the week: Follow an easy seven-step plan for your nonprofit to get-out-the-vote
Bonus voting tip of the week: Make sure that your nonprofit's staff vote
Nonprofits and businesses call for White House to revoke executive order to limit race and gender equity trainings
Congress remains at impasse over additional COVID-19 relief
New streamlined PPP Loan Forgiveness application may help many nonprofits
Census count has now ended 
Let the Center know how we can help nonprofits next year
Third quarter lobbying reports due by October 21
Survey highlights challenges COVID-19 has created for North Carolina Nonprofits
Voting Tip of the Week: Follow an Easy Seven-Step Plan for Your Nonprofit to Get-Out-the-Vote
The Center has long held the position that it is important for all 501(c)(3) nonprofits to participate in nonpartisan voter registration, voter education, and get-out-the-vote activities to strengthen the voices of their communities and the people they serve. To help your nonprofit take some simple steps in nonpartisan voter engagement leading up to the 2020 election, the Center will offer a Voting Tip of the Week for the next few weeks in our Friday Nonprofit Policy Matters e-newsletter.
Voting Tip of the Week
Early Voting opened in all 100 counties of North Carolina yesterday and will continue through Saturday, October 31. Early Voting is the best option for many North Carolinians, since you can register to vote or update your address onsite. If you are planning to vote early, make sure you know where (and at what times) Early Voting will be available in your county.

It is important for all nonprofits (hint: that includes your organization!) to encourage their staff, volunteers, and the people they serve to vote in the 2020 election. Not sure how to do that? A new blog post offers a simple seven-step plan for nonprofits to get unstuck and promote the vote.

For more election tips for nonprofits, check out:

  1. The Center’s updated blog post answering the most common questions we’re hearing from North Carolina nonprofits about the 2020 election.
  2. A recording of the Center’s recent webinar preparing nonprofits for the 2020 election. The webinar includes election tips for nonprofits and basic information about the 2020 election in North Carolina. To help nonprofit leaders – and the people they serve – make informed choices on their ballots, the webinar also features a panel discussion with nonprofit experts sharing information about major policy issues affecting North Carolina’s future, including children’s issues, criminal justice, education, the environment, and healthcare.
Bonus Voting Tip of the Week: Make Sure that Your Nonprofit’s Staff Vote
One of the easiest ways nonprofits can help promote the 2020 election is by giving your staff time off to vote during Early Voting or on Election Day. You can pledge to do this (and get free resources to help) by signing up a Nonprofit Staff VOTE partner today.

To make it easy for your organization, the Center is sharing its recently-adopted policy allowing staff to take time off to vote or to volunteer as nonpartisan poll workers:
 
“Voting and Election Day.  The Center encourages all employees who are eligible to vote to participate fully in the electoral process. Any Center employee may take paid time off work on Election Day or during the Early Voting period to vote in any primary, general, or run-off election. Employees should notify their supervisors of the time they plan to take off for voting.
 
“Center employees also may take up to one day per year of paid time off to volunteer in a nonpartisan role as a poll worker on Election Day or during the Early Voting period. Employees must get prior written approval of their supervisors (which shall not unreasonably be denied) before taking this paid time off. Employees volunteering for political parties or campaigns on Election Day or during the Early Voting period may not be paid for their time engaging in partisan political activities, but they may take annual leave for any time spent volunteering for candidates or political parties.”
 
Feel free to borrow this language and adapt it to fit into your organization’s personnel policies.
Nonprofits and Businesses Call for White House to Revoke Executive Order to Limit Race and Gender Equity Trainings 
Yesterday, the Center joined 160 other national and statewide nonprofit and business organizations in a letter from private sector employers (both for-profit and nonprofit) urging the White House to withdraw President Donald Trump’s recent executive order limiting workplace trainings on equity, diversity, and inclusion. The executive order limits the ability of federal contractors and grantees to use workplace training “that inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating.” The executive order would cover most trainings that include topics like race equity, gender equity, implicit bias, or systemic racism. Specifically, the executive order would require federal agencies to add provisions to future contracts prohibiting contractors from offering these types of workplace trainings and would allow federal agencies to prohibit grantees from using federal funds on these types of workplace trainings.

Last week, the National Council of Nonprofits published a thorough analysis of the executive order. This analysis articulates many of the concerns that the Center and other nonprofits have about the ways that this misguided executive order could limit the ability of some nonprofits with federal grants and contracts to offer workplace trainings on important topics related to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Congress Remains at Impasse over Additional COVID-19 Relief
Leaders in Congress and the White House remain at an impasse over much-need additional COVID-19 relief for nonprofits and communities. The U.S. House of Representatives made the most recent offer in the negotiations when it passed the Updated Heroes Act, its $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, two weeks ago. The U.S. Senate was not in session this week, but the Senate could vote on a smaller relief bill next week. 

With the House, Senate, and White House seemingly far apart in negotiations, it is unlikely that Congress will pass additional COVID-19 legislation until after the election next month. The Center and other nonprofits continue to advocate for Congress to act immediately to pass meaningful relief for nonprofits, individuals, businesses, and communities. Specifically, nonprofits are asking Congress to include:

  • Improving the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Updated Heroes Act and Senate relief proposals would allow many nonprofits to qualify for a second forgivable PPP loan and would simplify the loan forgiveness process for most nonprofit borrowers.
  • Strengthening the universal charitable deduction. The CARES Act capped the temporary universal charitable deduction at $300 per taxpayer and only allows taxpayers to use this in 2020. The Center and other nonprofits continue to ask Congress to make meaningful improvements to the universal charitable deduction by significantly increasing the cap and extending it through 2021.The Updated Heroes Act does not improve this incentive for charitable giving, but it is possible that the Senate could include a higher cap in its proposal next week.
  • Extending unemployment insurance (UI) relief. The CARES Act only provides federal funds to cover 50% of self-insured nonprofits’ COVID-related UI costs (the state is covering the other 50% of these costs for self-insured nonprofits in North Carolina). Nonprofits are asking Congress to cover the other 50% and to extend this UI relief into 2021. Nonprofits are also seeking extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program – which provides UI benefits to self-employed individuals and laid-off or furloughed workers at small and religious nonprofits that are exempt from UI requirements – and restoration of the $600 per week supplemental UI benefits for most laid-off or furloughed workers.
  • Expanding the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). The Updated Heroes Act and Senate relief proposals would strengthen the refundable tax credit available to nonprofits and businesses that maintain their employees by significantly increasing the amount of the credit for each employee and by allowing nonprofits to use both the PPP and the ERTC for different periods. This could provide significant new relief for many nonprofits that have sustained financial losses during the pandemic.
  • Providing additional aid for state and local governments. The Updated Heroes Act would provide $238 billion to states and $179 billion to local governments around the country. This additional funding is critical to help state and local governments continue to provide essential services despite growing revenue shortfalls.
  • Appropriating federal dollars to help nonprofits and communities. The Updated Heroes Act includes a wide range of appropriations, including increased funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food banks, arts and humanities nonprofits, domestic violence organizations, legal services nonprofits, hospitals, mental health service providers, and the Community Development Block Grant.

Earlier this month, the Center reached out to every member of North Carolina’s congressional delegation to encourage them to work in a bipartisan manner to provide additional COVID-19 relief to nonprofits and communities. We will let you know if there is a need for your nonprofit to take action.
New Streamlined PPP Loan Forgiveness Application May Help Many Nonprofits
Last week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released new loan forgiveness applications that streamline the forgiveness process for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. Borrowers that use the new simpler application will be exempt from any reductions in the borrower’s loan forgiveness amount based on reductions in full-time equivalent (FTE) employees or reductions in employee salary or wages that would otherwise apply. Go here to find the simpler loan forgiveness application (SBA Form 3508S). SBA also has made the instructions and a new Interim Final Rule on the simpler forgiveness process available online. This simplified process should help many nonprofits get their PPP loans forgiven.
Census Count Has Now Ended
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 2020 Census count did not need to continue through October 31. The Census Bureau quickly decided to stop the Census count on Thursday, October 15, meaning that enumeration is now over. Even though the Census Bureau has accounted for 99.9% of North Carolina households in the enumeration, it is likely that many North Carolinians were excluded from the Census Count. Only 64.8% of North Carolina households self-responded to the Census, while the Census Bureau compiled the remainder of the responses through its non-response follow-up (NRFU) operations. NRFU counts are generally less complete and less accurate than self-responses, so there still many be a significant undercount of North Carolina’s population in the 2020 Census.
Let the Center Know How We Can Help Nonprofits Next Year
This week, the Center opened its annual Membership and Engagement Survey. The results of this survey will help the Center in evaluating our programs and services so that we can best meet the need of North Carolina nonprofits in the coming year. A few of the questions will help inform the types of resources we offer to help nonprofits be effective advocates for their missions. Please take 15-20 minutes to complete the survey so that your voice is included in this process. We want to hear from you even if your organization isn’t a current member of the Center! Everyone who completes the survey will be entered in a drawing to win a free registration to the Center’s virtual conference on December 8-10. Take the survey!
Third Quarter Lobbying Reports Due by October 21
Third quarter lobbying expense reports are due to the NC Secretary of State by Wednesday, October 21. Nonprofits that are registered as lobbyist principals and nonprofit staff and contractors registered as lobbyists must submit their expense reports each quarter. For more information on lobbying registration and reporting requirements, check out the Center's summary of NC lobbying laws for nonprofits.
Survey Highlights Challenges COVID-19 Has Created for North Carolina Nonprofits
This summer, the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits and the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships launched a survey of charitable nonprofits across North Carolina to get a sense of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their operations and their communities. Some highlights of the survey include:

  • COVID-19 has greatly affected nonprofits’ operations, with the vast majority of respondents (94%) saying that the pandemic has affected their operations and three-fourth having experienced a disruption in their programs and services since March.
  •  Many nonprofits are operating with fewer staff and volunteers than they were at the beginning of the year.
  • Three-fourths of nonprofits responding to the survey lost revenue during the first three months of the pandemic, and more expect additional revenue losses in the coming months.
  • Nearly half (45%) of responding nonprofits received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.

In addition to the Center’s analysis of survey highlights, the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships has released its report on the survey findings, along with the complete dataset from the survey.
Not a Center Member? Join now.

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.