October 2, 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...
U.S. House approves additional COVID-19 relief for nonprofits
Free webinar to ensure your nonprofit is prepared for 2020 Election
Census Bureau intends to end enumeration on Monday
Spread the word: Many North Carolinians need to apply for tax relief by October 15
Voting tip of the week: Next week is National Voter Education Week
Don’t delay: Request your absentee ballot today
North Carolina moves to Phase 3 of COVID-19 reopening this evening
U.S. Senate passes continuing resolution to try to avert government shutdown
U.S. House Approves Additional COVID-19 Relief for Nonprofits
As leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and the White House continued their negotiations on much-needed additional COVID-19 relief last night, the House narrowly approved the Updated Heroes Act. The House’s $2.2 trillion dollar proposal would provide several new forms of relief to nonprofits and communities that are struggling due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. The Center is working with other nonprofits to advocate for Congress to reach an agreement quickly in a way that provides meaningful help for charitable nonprofits.

Many provisions in the 2,154-page bill that the House passed would affect nonprofits, including:
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Improvements. The Updated Heroes Act would set aside 30% of PPP funding for nonprofits and expand eligibility to non-501(c)(3) nonprofits and to nonprofits with more than 500 employees. It also would allow nonprofits with fewer than 200 employees and quarterly losses in gross receipts of 25% or more to qualify for a second PPP loan of up to $2 million. In addition, it would simplify the loan forgiveness process for borrowers with loans of up to $150,000.
  • Unemployment Insurance (UI) Changes. The Updated Heroes Act would still only provide 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). It would, however, extend the 50% federal coverage through June 30, 2021 (it’s currently scheduled to end on December 31, 2020). The Updated Heroes Act also would extend the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – 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 – through January 31, 2021. Additionally, it would restore the $600 per week supplemental UI benefits for most laid-off or furloughed workers from the week of September 6, 2020 through January 31, 2021 and would provide a transitional period to help prevent a steep decline in UI benefits for these workers in February 2021.
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) Expansion. The Updated Heroes Act 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.
  • Expansion of Paid Leave Mandate to Larger Employers. The Updated Heroes Act would extend the paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave provisions to employers – including nonprofits – with 500 or more employees. Notably, this provision would not allow these larger employers to claim tax credits for the paid leave that their employees take, potentially creating additional financial hardship for larger nonprofits.
  • 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. Notably, the language in the Updated Heroes Act expressly allows state and local governments to transfer some or all of this funding to nonprofits.
  • Appropriations. 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.
  • No Improvement to Universal Charitable Deduction. Unfortunately, the Updated Heroes Act maintains the $300 cap on the universal charitable deduction from the CARES Act and doesn’t extend this incentive for charitable giving past 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 National Council of Nonprofits has developed a useful preliminary analysis of key nonprofit provisions in the Updated Heroes Act.

The Center reached out to every member of North Carolina’s congressional delegation this week to encourage them to work in a bipartisan manner to provide additional COVID-19 relief to nonprofits and communities. Look for possible alerts from the Center as we see opportunities for you to use your voices to help with these efforts.
Free Webinar to Ensure Your Nonprofit is Prepared for 2020 Election
The 2020 election is here! Absentee voting is already underway, and Early Voting opens on October 15 throughout North Carolina. To help your nonprofit’s staff, board, and volunteers prepare for the election, the Center is offering a free webinar on Thursday, October 8 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. that will include:
  • A brief synopsis of what nonprofits can (and can't) and should (and shouldn’t) do leading up to the 2020 election, complete with answers to the most common questions nonprofits are asking the Center this year.
  • Basic election information that every nonprofit leader – and every North Carolina voter – should know, with tips on how to find your polling places for Early Voting and Election Day, who is on your ballot, and much more.
  • An update on the status of policy issues affecting the nonprofit sector and a preview of some important sector-wide issues on the horizon in 2021 and beyond.
  • A nonpartisan overview of several important major policy issues affecting North Carolina’s future to help you make sense of discussions in debates, candidate forums, and candidate guides.

Census Bureau Intends to End Enumeration on Monday
The U.S. Census Bureau announced this week that it is planning to end its in-person operations on Monday, October 5. That would also be the deadline for households to self-respond to the Census by mail, email, or phone. This announcement comes despite a federal court ruling last week that ordered the Census count to continue through October 31.

As of Tuesday, 2.7% of North Carolina households still had not responded to the Census. North Carolina has the nation’s seventh-worst response rate. A 2.7% 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.

With so many North Carolina households still uncounted, it is critical that nonprofits do everything in their power TODAY to get a complete and accurate count. The call to action for nonprofit staff, volunteers, and board members is simple: Make sure that everyone with whom your nonprofit engages completes the Census questionnaire. To help with last-minute get-out-the count efforts, the NC Counts Coalition has a new toolkit with sample messaging, social media posts and graphics, and outreach ideas.

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.
Spread the Word: Many North Carolinians Need to Apply for Tax Relief by October 15
Last month, the NC General Assembly approved the Extra Credit Grant Program which provides $335 payments to help taxpaying families with children pay for virtual schooling and child-care costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While most taxpayers will receive these payments automatically, low-income families that did not file a 2019 state tax return will need to apply to the NC Department of Revenue (DOR) to receive their $335 payments by October 15. Last week, DOR opened the online and printable paper applications for Extra Credit Grants in English and Spanish. Applications are relatively simple, only requiring taxpayers to list their names, SSNs, contact information, and their children’s names, ages, and SSNs.

The Center strongly encourages nonprofits serving low-income North Carolinians to help spread the word to ensure that those who did not file a 2019 tax return submit their applications by mail or online before the October 15 deadline. DOR has also developed an online toolkit to help nonprofits spread the word about how low-income North Carolinians can apply for these payments.
Voting Tip of the Week: Next Week is National Voter Education Week
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 simple steps in nonpartisan voter engagement leading up to the 2020 election, the Center will offer these weekly voting tips for the next few weeks.
Voting Tip of the Week
Next week is National Voter Education Week. This is a great time for your nonprofit to provide clear, accurate, and nonpartisan information about the 2020 election to your staff, volunteers, and the people you serve. Nonprofit VOTE has template messaging for nonprofits to use by email, text, and social media. For North Carolina specific voter education information, check the Center’s social media next week and read our updated blog post answering the most common questions we’re hearing from North Carolina nonprofits about the 2020 election.
Don’t Delay: Request Your Absentee Ballot Today
The NC State Board of Elections’ online portal for requesting absentee ballots is open! Voters don’t need an excuse to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail, and even after requesting an absentee ballot, voters can still chose to vote in person during the Early Voting period or on Election Day instead of submitting their absentee ballot. The online portal for absentee voting also allows voters to check on the status of their absentee ballots.

Take action today: The Center encourages nonprofits to urge their staff, board members, volunteers, and those they serve to request an absentee ballot immediately if they are planning to vote by mail. This will ensure that they receive their absentee ballots in time to vote by mail before Election Day.
North Carolina Moves to Phase 3 of COVID-19 Reopening This Evening
On Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 169, moving North Carolina into Phase 3 of the re-opening of the state’s economy at 5 p.m. today. Some notable provisions in the Governor’s Phase 3 executive orders for nonprofits include:
  • Mass gatherings of up to 25 people indoors and up to 50 people outdoors (up from 10 people in indoor gatherings under Phase 2) are still permitted.
  • Meeting and conference facilities can reopen for seated meetings with adequate social distancing at a maximum capacity of the lesser of 100 people or 30% of fire code capacity.
  • Most outdoor entertainment venues can reopen at 30% of capacity for seated events with social distancing measures in place, and large outdoor entertainment venues that seat 10,000 or more people can reopen at 7% of capacity for seated events.
  • Museums and aquariums – many of which are nonprofits – may remain open at 50% of their capacity.
  • Gyms and indoor exercise facilities may remain open at 30% of their capacity.
  • Childcare providers, day camps, and overnight camps may remain open, but they must follow NC Department of Health and Human Service guidelines, screen individuals every day, and immediately isolate sick service providers, counselors, or children.
  • Parks, trails, and swimming pools may remain open with safety precautions in place.
  • Retail stores (such as nonprofit thrift stores) may remain open at 50% of their fire code capacity.
  • All employers in North Carolina – including nonprofits – are still required to make a good-faith effort to provide face coverings for their employees. The Executive Order calls for employers to provide either a weekly supply of re-usable face coverings or a daily supply of disposable face coverings for their employees.
U.S. Senate Passes Continuing Resolution to Try to Avert Government Shutdown
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill (H.R. 8337) to extend funding for many federal agencies through December 11. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill last week, and President Donald Trump signed it into law on Wednesday night. The continuing resolution provides funding for much of the federal government and prevented a partial government shutdown yesterday.
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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.