September 18, 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...
North Carolina nonprofits make the case for more federal COVID-19 relief
Congress and White House consider additional COVID-19 relief legislation
Center endorses new U.S. Senate bill to extend Census enumeration through October 31
Act now: Be certain everyone you know completes the Census questionnaire
Do you have questions about nonprofits and the 2020 election? We have answers!
Reminder: Request your absentee ballot today
National Voter Registration Day is next week
Webinar highlights basics of the 2020 election for nonprofits
Center offers updated resources on nonprofit advocacy
DOL issues clarifying regulations on FFCRA leave
Join a free webinar to learn more about FFCRA paid leave and nonprofits
North Carolina Nonprofits Make the Case for More Federal COVID-19 Relief
On Tuesday, the Center hosted a virtual press conference to highlight the urgent need for Congress to act quickly on additional relief for nonprofits and communities that are struggling with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Several nonprofit leaders shared stories about the challenges facing basic human service agencies, arts organizations, YMCAs, health care nonprofits, private colleges and universities, and other charitable organizations. The speakers called on North Carolina’s members of Congress to work across party lines to pass a relief package with policy solutions that will help nonprofits continue to provide essential services in communities across North Carolina. Specifically, the Center and other nonprofits are asking Congress to enact these four policy solutions:

  1. Continue Emergency Funding Programs. Specifically, it is important for Congress to: (a) enable a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans; and (b) appropriate funds for federal grant programs to state and local governments that depend on nonprofits to deliver services to the public. A policy solution like the WORK NOW Act, which would provide a grant program to help nonprofits serving critical needs related to the pandemic, would help create new jobs AND maintain critical services in our communities.
  2. Strengthen Charitable Giving Incentive by making meaningful improvements to the above-the-line charitable deduction in the CARES Act from $300 in 2020 to about $4,000 per individual and $8,000 per married couple in 2020 and 2021 so the incentive is universally available to all Americans, not just the wealthy. 
  3. Extend Loan Programs to Mid-Sized and Larger Nonprofits with more than 500 employees, because the CARES Act largely excluded them. Many larger nonprofits have had not received any government assistance for their financial losses during the pandemic and are having to turn to individual donors and foundations for more support, possibly at the expense of private contributions to smaller nonprofits.
  4. Provide Full Federal Unemployment Coverage for self-insured nonprofits by increasing the federal unemployment insurance reimbursement from 50% to 100% of costs. This would remove uncertainty from North Carolina nonprofits about their pending financial losses due to unemployment claims.

For more, check out the summary and video from Tuesday’s press conference. 

Take action today: Share our Facebook and Twitter posts raising awareness of the importance of Congress proving more relief for nonprofits and communities. Add your own nonprofit’s story to highlight the needs in your community and share it with local media.
Congress and White House Consider Additional COVID-19 Relief Legislation
This week, the White House and leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives indicated a renewed interest in reaching an agreement on additional COVID-19 relief. On Tuesday, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus released a Bipartisan COVID Relief Framework that is a middle ground between the HEROES Act that the House passed in May and the scaled-down COVID-19 relief bill that was defeated in the Senate last week. This framework proposes:
  • A second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and simplified loan forgiveness for most nonprofits and businesses that have received PPP loans;
  • An expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit that could provide financial relief to many nonprofits and businesses;
  • $500 billion in additional support for state and local governments;
  • Extended unemployment benefits of $450 per week for eight weeks, with a formula for adjusting benefits based on pay and the state of the economy; and
  • Another round of $1,200 direct stimulus payments for individuals.

Aside from the second round of PPP funding, it remains unclear whether the Problem Solvers Caucus framework would include the other policy solutions that the Center and other nonprofits are advocating for Congress to pass. None of North Carolina’s members of Congress are part of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
Center Endorses New U.S. Senate Bill to Extend Census Enumeration through October 31
The U.S. Census Bureau is ending its in-person operations at the end of this month. September 30 will also be the deadline for households to self-respond to the Census by mail, email, or phone. As of Tuesday, 11.5% of North Carolina households still had not responded to the Census with just three weeks remaining in the Census count. North Carolina is one of only 10 states with more than 10% of households remaining uncounted. 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 U.S. Census Bureau’s decision to end the Census count on September 30 – a month earlier than its previous plan of continuing enumeration through October 31 – is one of the main reasons that North Carolina is at risk of a significant undercount. On Tuesday, the bipartisan Census Deadline Extensions Act (S.4571) was introduced in the U.S. Senate to extend key Census deadlines by four months and require the Census Bureau to continue the 2020 Census count through October 31. The Center was one of about 200 national and statewide organizations to formally endorse the bill. Congress would need to approve this bill quickly – and have the President sign it –to extend the Census another month.
Act Now: Be Certain Everyone You Know Completes the Census Questionnaire
With so many North Carolina households still uncounted in the Census and the bill to extend the Census count another month still a long shot, it is critical that nonprofits do everything in their power to get a complete and accurate count in the next three weeks. 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 effort, 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.
Do You Have Questions about Nonprofits and the 2020 Election? We Have Answers!
Have you been wondering what types of election-related activities your nonprofit can and can’t do between now and the November 3 election? You’re not alone; the Center has been fielding many questions about what’s legal and what’s advisable. This week, the Center posted answers to some of the most common questions we’re hearing. We encourage you to check out this blog post and to let us know of other questions you have about your nonprofit’s engagement in the 2020 election.
Reminder: Request Your Absentee Ballot Today
The NC State Board of Elections’ online portal for requesting absentee ballots is now open. The online application process only takes about three minutes to complete. Voters who request an absentee ballot will receive one by mail and can still choose 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 now. This will ensure that they receive their absentee ballots with plenty of time to vote by mail before Election Day.
National Voter Registration Day is Next Week
National Voter Registration Day (September 22) is coming up next Tuesday! 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 today to ensure that your nonprofit’s voter registration work is included in the nationwide effort to register hundreds of thousands of voters on September 22.
Webinar Highlights Basics of the 2020 Election for Nonprofits
Earlier this month, the Center partnered with You Can Vote on a free webinar highlighting the basics of the 2020 election process in North Carolina and ways that nonprofits can get involved. We encourage nonprofit leaders to check out the recording of that webinar. You Can Vote is also offering other easy ways for nonprofits to make a difference (in a nonpartisan way) in the 2020 election:
  1. Join the You Can Vote Voting Rights Champion program. This program provides accurate, up-to-date, easy-to-read, bilingual (English/Spanish) resources on voter registration and the election process in North Carolina. Become a Voting Rights Champion today to get access to free resources and support to ensure that voters in your nonprofit’s community can successfully cast their ballots this fall.
  2. Check out You Can Vote’s updated 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.
Center Offers Updated Resources on Nonprofit Advocacy
Advocacy is a broad term that encompasses any type of communication that advances a nonprofit’s mission. Nonprofits often recognize that advocacy includes legislative lobbying on public policy issues, nonpartisan voter engagement activities, and issue-based rallies. But it also includes storytelling about a nonprofit’s mission, media outreach, and conversations with donors, volunteers, and business leaders. The Center is committed to helping every North Carolina nonprofit become an effective advocate for its mission and its community. As a first step, the Center recently revamped the advocacy resources page on our website.
DOL Issues Clarifying Regulations on FFCRA Leave
With public schools across North Carolina operating partially or fully remotely (varying by school district) at the start of the school year, many nonprofit employees are finding it necessary to take time off work to manage their children’s education. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires nonprofits and other employees to provide two weeks of paid sick leave and 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave (FMLA) for employees who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. FFCRA also provides refundable payroll tax credits to nonprofits and other employers to cover 100% of the costs of the emergency paid sick leave and emergency FMLA that their employees take during the pandemic. These tax credits ensure that nonprofits don’t bear the cost of necessary paid leave when their employees are out of work due to the pandemic.

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued revised regulations on the implementation of the FFCRA leave requirements in response to a recent court decision that invalidated parts of the original DOL regulations. DOL’s original regulations required employees to get employer approval before taking FFCRA paid leave in intermittent increments (i.e. not all in one consecutive period of days off) when caring for children whose schools are operating with remote learning. For parents with children in schools operating on a hybrid in-person/remote learning system, the new regulations clarify that taking leave only on days when their children are learning remotely is not considered intermittent (and therefore does not require employer consent). The revised regulations also give employees more time to provide their employers with documentation about the need for taking paid leave.
Join a Free Webinar to Learn More about FFCRA Paid Leave and Nonprofits
To help nonprofits with employees gain a better understanding of FFCRA paid leave requirements, the National Council of Nonprofits is offering a free webinar next Thursday, September 24 at 3 p.m. On the webinar, speakers from DOL will:

  • Walk participants through the requirements of the laws;
  • Explain which employees and employers are and are not covered;
  • Discuss the concept of intermittent family leave in the context of school reopening; and
  • Address the recent federal court decision and the recent changes to DOL regulations.
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.