October 30, 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...
Many nonprofits now eligible for state grant program for businesses closed due to COVID-19
Voting tip of the week: Make a plan to vote today, tomorrow, or Tuesday
Make sure your nonprofit’s staff vote
State of North Carolina clarifies nonprofits are not liable for COVID-related UI benefits
Congress gives up on additional COVID-19 relief until next month
Let the Center know how we can help your nonprofit next year
Many Nonprofits Now Eligible for State Grant Program for Businesses Closed Due to COVID-19
On Tuesday, the NC Department of Commerce made significant changes to the Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR) Program – a new grant program that provides financial relief to businesses in certain industries that were closed due to COVID-19. Most notably, many types of nonprofits may now apply for these grants. Eligible organizations include museums, concert hall operators, live theater operators, performing arts center operators, indoor fitness and recreational sports facilities, aquariums, zoos, wild animal parks, and botanical gardens. Grants are available to eligible organizations with 50 or fewer employees per location that were closed between April 2020 and July 2020 due to COVID-19. Grants are available up to $20,000 per facility (for a total of $40,000 for an organization with two or more facilities). 

Originally, these grants were only open to for-profit businesses, but the Center successfully advocated for the Department of Commerce to change the eligibility requirements to allow nonprofits to receive grants. The Department of Commerce is issuing grants to eligible organizations on a first-come, first-served basis, so the Center encourages eligible nonprofits to apply immediately.

The Center is offering a free webinar next Thursday, November 5 at 9:30 a.m. during which the NC Department of Commerce will provide more information about the MURR grant program and answer nonprofits’ questions. If your nonprofit is eligible, we encourage you to register for the webinar.
Voting Tip of the Week: Make a Plan to Vote Today, Tomorrow, or Tuesday
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, the Center will offer voting tips leading up to the 2020 election.
Voting Tip of the Week
With Election Day just four days away, it is important for all nonprofits (hint: that includes your organization!) to encourage their staff, volunteers, and the people they serve to make a plan to vote in the 2020 election. There are still three ways to vote:
  1. Early Voting is open today and tomorrow. 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 is available in your county
  2. Registered voters can vote on Election Day (next Tuesday, November 3). If you are planning to vote on Election Day, you will need to vote at the polling place for your precinct. Take two minutes today to confirm that you are registered to vote at your current address and to find your polling place. If you discover that you are not registered at your current address, don’t panic; it’s not too late to register or update your address at Early Voting today or tomorrow.
  3. If you have an absentee ballot, you can return it by mail if it is postmarked by November 3. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday night that valid North Carolina absentee ballots received by November 12 can be counted. It is important to note, though, that voters submitting absentee ballots this close to the election may not have an opportunity to correct any mistakes that could cause their ballots not to be counted since absentee ballot cure certifications are also due by November 12.

As your nonprofit makes a final (nonpartisan) push before Election Day, here are three resources to help your organization 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 2020 election, including 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.
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 (i.e. today) or on Election Day next Tuesday. You can pledge to do this (and get free resources to help) by signing up as a Nonprofit Staff VOTE partner today.
State of North Carolina Clarifies Nonprofits Are 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.
Congress Gives Up on Additional COVID-19 Relief Until Next Month
With the Senate wrapping up its pre-election business after the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation this week, Congress has officially given up on passing much-needed additional COVID-19 relief until after the election. Leaders in Congress and the White House are hopeful they can negotiate a relief bill next month that will be a compromise between recent House and Senate proposals.

The Center and other nonprofits continue to advocate for Congress to act as quickly as possible to pass meaningful relief for nonprofits, individuals, businesses, and communities. Specifically, nonprofits are asking Congress to include:
  • Improving the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The House 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 House proposal 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 House 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 House proposal 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 does not include additional funding for state and local governments.
  • Appropriating federal dollars to help nonprofits and communities. The House proposal 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.

We will let you know if there is a need for your nonprofit to take action.
Let the Center Know How We Can Help Nonprofits Next Year
The Center's annual Membership and Engagement Survey is open! 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 either a free Center membership or registration to the Center’s virtual conference on December 8-10. Take the survey.
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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.