October 9, 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: There are three ways to vote in NC – make your plan today!
Nonprofits express outrage over executive order to limit race and gender equity trainings 
President sends mixed messages on additional COVID-19 relief
U.S. Supreme Court to decide on Census extension
Spread the word: Many North Carolinians need to apply for tax relief by next Thursday
Survey highlights challenges COVID-19 has created for North Carolina nonprofits
New bill would create uncapped charitable deduction and funding for some nonprofits
Voting Tip of the Week:
There Are Three Ways to Vote in NC – Make Your Plan Today!
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
With Election Day less than a month away, now is a critical time for nonprofits to remind their staff, board members, volunteers, and the people they serve about the importance of having a plan for how and when they will vote. There are three ways to vote in North Carolina’s election:
  1. Absentee voting is already underway. If you plan to vote by mail, it is critical that you request your absentee ballot immediately to ensure you receive it in time to mail it before Election Day. The NC State Board of Elections has an online portal for requesting absentee ballots.
  2. In-person Early Voting begins next Thursday, October 15 and continues 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 plan to vote early, make sure you know where (and at what times) Early Voting is available in your county.
  3. In-person Election Day voting will take place on Tuesday, November 3. Today is the deadline to register to vote (or change your address if you have moved since you last voted) on Election Day. On November 3, you must vote at your designated precinct. If you plan to vote on Election Day, please take two minutes TODAY to confirm that you are registered to vote at your current home address and find your polling place. If you need to register or update your registration, your voter registration form needs to be received by your county board of election by 5 p.m. today or postmarked today in order to vote on Election Day.

For more election tips for nonprofits, check out:
  1. A recording of the Center’s 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. 
  2. The Center’s updated blog post answering the most common questions we’re hearing from North Carolina nonprofits about the 2020 election.
Nonprofits Express Outrage Over Executive Order to Limit Race and Gender Equity Trainings
Over the past two weeks, many nonprofits have expressed outrage over an executive order issued by President Donald Trump to limit 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 cover 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. 

This 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. 

The Center continues to work with the National Council of Nonprofits and other nonprofit and business leaders to stop the implementation of this executive order. Your input is important in this advocacy effort. Let us know if your nonprofit has a federal grant or contract and might be affected by this executive order. Thank you if you have already shared with us the ways that the executive order might impact your organization.
President Sends Mixed Messages on Additional COVID-19 Relief
Prospects for much-needed additional COVID-19 relief for nonprofits and communities are uncertain after President Donald Trump made conflicting statements this week on whether the White House was giving up on negotiations with congressional leaders. The Center and other nonprofits continue to advocate for Congress to build upon the Updated Heroes Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed last week, 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.
  • 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.

Last week, 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.
U.S. Supreme Court to Decide on Census Extension
In the next few days, the U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision on whether the 2020 Census count is complete or whether it will be extended through October 31. On Wednesday, a federal court once again ruled that the U.S. Census Bureau must continue the Census count through October 31. The Trump administration quickly appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Census Bureau needed to stop the count by its internal deadline of October 5 to be able to deliver final Census data to the President by December 31, as required by federal statute. 

If the Census count is not extended through the end of the month, tens of thousands of North Carolinians will be missed in the 2020 Census. This will cost North Carolina communities billions of dollars in federal funding for public schools, childcare, health care, affordable housing, food assistance, and many other programs over the next decade. 

Congress could allow the Census count to continue through October 31 by passing bipartisan legislation to extend the Census reporting deadlines that the Census Bureau has identified as the reason for ending the count early. Your nonprofit can help by signing on to a letter to our U.S. Senators asking them to take action on this legislation immediately.
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 next Thursday, October 15. DOR has made available 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 also has an online toolkit to help nonprofits spread the word about how low-income North Carolinians can apply for these payments.
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.
New Bill Would Create Uncapped Charitable Deduction and Funding for Some Nonprofits
Last week, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Culture, Arts, Libraries, and Museums Emergency Relief (CALMER) Act, to provide “funding to the arts and culture nonprofit community, encourage charitable giving, and expand CARES programs to include nonprofit organizations.” In addition to supporting various federal grants programs for arts and cultural organizations, the bill includes an uncapped universal charitable deduction, forgivable loans under the Main Street Lending Program, and expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program to all 501(c) organizations. While the bill is unlikely to pass, it demonstrates the types of relief that Congress should be considering to help nonprofits.
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.