October 23, 2020
Note: The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits typically provides Nonprofit Policy Update 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...
US Labor Department seeks input on executive order to limit race and gender equity trainings 
State of North Carolina clarifies nonprofits not liable for COVID-related UI benefits
Voting tip of the week: Early Voting continues through October 31
Make sure your nonprofit’s staff vote
Additional COVID-19 relief could still be approved before Election Day
Governor Cooper extends Phase 3 of North Carolina’s COVID-19 reopening 
Congressional subcommittee seeks information on erroneous revocation of tax-exemptions
Let the Center know how we can help nonprofits next year
US Labor Department Seeks Input on Executive Order to Limit Race and Gender Equity Trainings
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Request for Information seeking input from federal contractors related to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order limiting workplace trainings on equity, diversity, and inclusion. The executive order, which takes effect on November 21, 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 covers most trainings that include topics like race equity, gender equity, implicit bias, or systemic racism. Specifically, the executive order requires federal agencies to add provisions to contracts prohibiting contractors from offering these types of workplace trainings and allows federal agencies to prohibit grantees from using federal funds on these types of workplace trainings. Federal agencies are required to provide reports on how this will affect their grantees by November 21.

The Request for Information is focused on the government contractors rather than on grantees. While DOL encourages federal contractors to submit copies of their materials from “workplace trainings that involve race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating,” nonprofits with federal contracts may want to be cautious about submitting these materials, since they could provide the federal government evidence that could lead to enforcement of the executive order. Nonprofits can also submit comments to DOL about the impact of the executive order. The Center plans to submit comments sharing nonprofits’ concerns about the way 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 deadline to submit comments or materials is December 1, 2020.

Last week, 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 the executive order. The National Council of Nonprofits has published a thorough analysis highlighting the problems with the executive order.
State of North Carolina Clarifies Nonprofits Not Liable for COVID-Related UI Benefits
The Division of Employment Security (DES) at the NC Department of Commerce has posted information clarifying that nonprofits that elect to reimburse for unemployment insurance (UI) will not be charged for the costs of UI claims of their employees who were laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19. This non-charging provision was part of Executive Order No. 118, which was issued by Governor Roy Cooper in March. In its notice, DES clarified that reimbursing nonprofits have received a list of charges on their account but that this is not a bill, so these nonprofits are not required to submit any payments to DES. Reimbursing nonprofits will receive a statement next month reflecting all credits due to their account. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, the Center has (successfully) advocated for the federal and state government to hold reimbursing nonprofits harmless for their COVID-related UI claims.
Voting Tip of the Week: Early Voting Continues Through October 31
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 voting tips for the next few weeks.
Voting Tip of the Week
Nine days into the Early Voting period, more than a third of registered North Carolina voters have already cast their ballots. Early Voting remains open in all 100 counties of North Carolina 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. This close to Election Day, Early Voting is also an excellent option for people who requested an absentee ballot but have not submitted it yet, as well as those whose absentee ballots were rejected. Individuals who cannot enter polling places to vote due to medical conditions, including being in a high-risk category for COVID-19, may use Curbside Voting at Early Voting sites. 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. Here are three resources to help your nonprofit get started (or continue) in this work:
  1. A simple seven-step plan for nonprofits to get unstuck and promote the vote.
  2. The Center’s updated blog post answering the most common questions we’re hearing from North Carolina nonprofits about the 2020 election.
  3. A recording of the Center’s recent webinar preparing nonprofits for the election, including election tips 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. 
Make Sure Your Nonprofit’s Staff Votes
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 as a Nonprofit Staff VOTE partner.

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. Feel free to borrow this language and adapt it to fit into your organization’s personnel policies. 

“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.”
Additional COVID-19 Relief Could Still Be Approved Before Election Day
Leaders in Congress and the White House appeared to make progress this week on the next round of COVID-19 relief. The negotiations between the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives have focused on legislation based on the Updated Heroes Act, the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that passed the House earlier this month. The U.S. Senate tried to vote on two smaller relief bills this week, but both failed to get the 60 votes required for consideration.  

As leaders in Congress and the White House continue their negotiations, 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 the Senate proposal included a higher cap.
  • 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. The Senate proposal didn’t include additional funding for state and local governments.
  • 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.

It is still possible that Congress could pass COVID-19 relief legislation before the November 3 election. We will let you know if there is a need for your nonprofit to take action.
Governor Cooper Extends Phase 3 of North Carolina’s COVID-19 Reopening
On Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 170, extending Phase 3 of the re-opening of North Carolina’s economy through November 13. Some notable provisions in the Governor’s Phase 3 executive order 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.
Congressional Subcommittee Seeks Information on Erroneous Revocation of Tax-Exemptions
On Tuesday, the Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury Secretary seeking information on the IRS’s recent, erroneous revocation of the tax-exempt status of more than 28,000 charitable nonprofits. The IRS revoked these nonprofits’ tax exemptions for failure to file a Form 990 return for three consecutive years by May 15, 2020, even though Congress passed a law extending these filing deadlines through July 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Yesterday, the IRS admitted its mistake and set up a process for organizations to have their tax-exempt status reinstated if it was revoked erroneously. Let us know if your organization erroneously had your tax exemption revoked.
Let the Center Know How We Can Help Nonprofits Next Year
Last 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 needs 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 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!
Not a Center Member? Join now.

Nonprofit Policy Update 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.