Coronavirus and Massachusetts Nonprofits

Last updated Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

MNN acknowledges the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on Massachusetts nonprofits as employers, conveners, and service providers. Click the links below to be directed to:

Go to Flash Poll Results (poll duration: 3/11-3/18)

MNN and Philanthropy Massachusetts are conducting a survey on the economic impacts of COVID-19 on Massachusetts nonprofits. The 5-minute survey is intended to collect real-time data on the virus’s economic impacts and will be open for the next few weeks. Click here to take the survey.


PHILANTHROPIC AND GOVERNMENT RELIEF

Philanthropic and governments across Massachusetts are setting up funds to support organizations and communities that have been impacted by the coronavirus. See below for a list of funds. MNN is updating this list as often as possible.

*To see this list as an interactive Google map, click here. For a complete listing of COVID-19 grants for Massachusetts nonprofits, click here.

Additional philanthropic funds can be found on Philanthropy Massachusetts’s website here.


REOPENING RESOURCES


PPP LOAN APPLICATION RESOURCES

  • On Friday, May 22, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued interim final guidance on PPP loan forgiveness. Our national partners at the National Council of Nonprofits have conducted a thorough analysis of this guidance. Click here.
  • On Friday, May 15, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued the application form and instructions for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness. The application allows borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period,” provides options for including eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week loan period, and explains statutory and regulatory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30. When releasing the application, the SBA acknowledged more loan forgiveness information is needed.
    • AAFCPAs has additional information–including step-by-step loan forgiveness calculation instructions–here.
  • New FAQs on the PPP Loan Program were published by the SBA and Treasury Department on May 13 and are accessible here. Notably, the SBA extended the safe harbor deadline for returning PPP loan funds from May 14 to May 18.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston published these resources for nonprofits, including a list of organizations able to provide technical assistance.
  • TSNE MissionWorks published this step-by-step application guide to help nonprofits prepare an application for a PPP loan. In addition, they are providing up to six hours of 1-on-1 virtual application assistance: sign ups are here.
  • The CARES Act Support Team, supported by the Fish Family Foundation, has put together a free playbook of application resources and assistance for nonprofits: click here.
  • FMA has additional resources and free virtual application workshops for nonprofits interested in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program: click here.
  • PPP Loan Forgiveness Calculator: click here.

FEDERAL AND STATE POLICY UPDATES

Federal and state government policy relief efforts are underway, and MNN is engaged in communication and advocacy at all levels to ensure that nonprofits are included in any appropriations and other relief policies. Read our full initial list of policy recommendations here, and about MNN’s policy response here

MNN will be making regular updates to the COVID-19 Policy Response section of its blog here.

Below is a list of state and federal policy developments to date.

Federal Policy Updates

National Survey of Self-Insured Nonprofits

Does your nonprofit elect to self-insure under the state’s unemployment insurance system? The National Council of Nonprofits is advocating for federal relief for self-insured nonprofits facing untenable UI insurance costs related to COVID-19. The survey collects input from organizations across the country to inform the Council’s advocacy. Take their short, entirely confidential survey here.

Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act

On March 27, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act. The legislation would provide emergency funding for nonprofits and create a universal charitable deduction. The representatives are also advocating for nonprofits of any size to qualify for newly-expanded Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Read our blog here for more detailed information.

The SOS America Act would:

  • Expressly provide charitable nonprofits with $60B for any emergency funding proposals. The bill provides for $60 billion in emergency support for charitable nonprofits and a mechanism to rapidly infuse cash to those organizations serving immediate needs in communities facing lost and declining revenue due to the pandemic.
  • Create a robust universal charitable deduction. Improve the proposed above-the-line charitable deduction of the CARES Act (which set a $300 cap) by significantly raising the cap and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on their 2019 taxes and beyond.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

On Thursday, April 23, the U.S. House passed the $484 billion interim spending bill that replenishes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, H. R. 266, provides $310 billion in additional funding for PPP, including $60 billion earmarked for lending by smaller financial institutions; $60 billion for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program; $75 billion in additional funding for hospitals; and $25 billion for increased testing for COVID-19. The President has expressed support for the bill and is expected to sign it.

Applications for Round 2 of the PPP loan program open Monday, April 27 at 10:30 am; the application process will be done on a first-come, first-served basis. It is recommended that nonprofits prepare their applications as much as possible to be able to submit once the date is announced. 

On March 27, the President signed into law the CARES Act. Below are three significant pieces of this bill that impact nonprofits. For a full analysis on the implications of this Act on nonprofits, read the National Council of Nonprofits’ analysis on the MNN’s COVID-19 Policy Response blog here.

  • Paycheck Protection Program Loans: Provides funding for special emergency loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits and small businesses, permitting them to cover costs of payroll, operations, and debt service, and provides that the loans be forgiven in whole or in part under certain circumstances. Note: These are in addition to the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which are available to nonprofits of any size.
    • The CARES Act Support Team, supported by the Fish Family Foundation, has put together a free playbook of application resources and assistance for nonprofits: click here.
    • FMA has additional resources and free virtual application workshops for nonprofits interested in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program: click here.
    • SBA announced interim final rules for loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. Click here for the rules.
  • Main Street Business Lending Program: On April 9, the Treasury Department announced the initial details about its progress in implementing Section 4003 of the CARES Act, which called on the Treasury to create a loan program for nonprofit and for-profit employers with between 500 and 10,000 employees. In response, the Treasury said that it is setting up a Main Street Business Lending Program that will apply to employers with up to 10,000 employees or annual revenues of less than $2.5 billion. Notably, the Department is removing the 500-employee floor so that smaller organizations can also apply. It’s setting up two programs: the Main Street New Loan Facility and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility. The Federal Reserve would oversee loans of at least $1 million and a maximum of $25 million (New) or $150 million (Expanded). Loans would have a four-year maturity and would not be forgivable. Details of the program are still in process; nonprofits can provide direct input until April 16 at this website.
    • On Wednesday, April 15, MNN submitted comments to the Federal Reserve urging the Treasury and the Fed to ensure that the forthcoming mid-size loan program extends both eligibility and desirable loan terms to the nonprofit sector. To date, nonprofits with 500 employees or more have not been eligible for the Small Business Administration Loan Programs. See MNN’s comments here.
  • Unemployment and Self Insured Nonprofits: Reimburses self-funded nonprofits for one half of the costs of benefits provided to their laid-off employees. This is explained in a recent blog article.
    • MNN is leading a coalition of associations to advocate for additional state relief/hold harmless for self-insured nonprofits, and a 120-day deferment of payments owed by organizations that self-insure for unemployment. MNN has been working with Senate leaders on S.2618 which proposes the deferment as an initial step. Click here for a letter we sent to the Baker-Polito Administration and legislative leaders.
  • Federal Charitable Giving IncentiveThe CARES Act contains a one-time, above-the-line deduction for cash contributions of up to $300 made to certain qualifying charities. All taxpayers would be eligible to take the deduction, even people who use the standard deduction. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year. The new deduction would not apply to non-cash gifts or to gifts contributed to donor advised funds. For those who itemize their deductions, the bill would suspend for 2020 the normal limit on deductions for contributions, ordinarily 50 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) or 60 percent for cash. For corporations, the limit on deductions for contributions, ordinarily 10 percent of AGI, is elevated to 25 percent for 2020. Food donations from corporations would be available to 25 percent, up from the current 15 percent cap.

Independent Sector has a helpful website on the implications of the CARES Act for small and large nonprofits – click here.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 24, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the release of initial guidance on the new paid leave law.

On March 19, the President signed into law, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill includes a complex set of temporary paid leave mandates and employer reimbursement provisions, as well as funding for free coronavirus testing, food nutrition security, and unemployment extension. For a full analysis on the implications of this Act on nonprofits, read the National Council of Nonprofit’s analysis on the MNN’s COVID-19 Policy Response blog here.

For more information, read these PowerPoint slides from the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

U.S. Small Business Administration Federal Disaster Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Massachusetts small businesses and nonprofits of any size suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Apply here.

Loan details:

  • Small businesses, including nonprofit organizations, that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.
  • Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 18, 2020

Form 990 Due Date Extension

On April 9, the IRS announced that it will extend relief to all taxpayers and entities that have a filing deadline between April 1-July 15th. For nonprofits, this applies to the IRS Form 990. The 990 is typically due on the 15th day of the 5th month following the end of the organization’s taxable year. For organizations that operate on a fiscal year ending December 31st, that means that the Form 990 is due on May 15th of the following year. Following this announcement, organizations will now have until July 15th to file their 990, without having to request an extension.

Federal Grants Flexibility

The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has posted instructions allowing federal agencies to issue exceptions to the grants rules in the OMB Uniform Guidance to remove administrative impediments on services necessary to carry out the emergency response related to COVID-19. The Memo (M-20-11) encourages flexibility in processing renewals of grants, allows looser reimbursement and purchasing standards, and more.

State Policy Updates

Governor Baker Releases State Reopening Plan

On Monday, May 18, Governor Charlie Baker released the four-phase reopening plan for Massachusetts. The plan, which was developed by the Reopening Advisory Board, provides guidance on the phased reopening of the economy and the gradual easing of social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four phases of the plan, which are named “Start,” “Cautious,” “Vigilant,” and “New Normal,” will last at least three weeks each. Progression between phases will be determined by state officials and will be based on health metrics such as decrease of new COVID-19 cases, the decrease of hospitalization rates, and the increase of testing capacity. 

For more information, read MNN’s May 18 edition of the COVID-19 Nonprofit Update here. For resources and tools to help your nonprofit prepare at the appropriate time, click here.

Empowerment Grants for Small Businesses in Gateway Cities from State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment

The State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment (OEE) is now accepting applications for Empowerment Grants for Small Businesses as an acknowledgement of the devastating economic impact that the COVID -19 pandemic has had on the Massachusetts small business community. Grants of up to $2,500 are being offered to small businesses–including eligible nonprofits–serving Massachusetts Gateway Cities. The State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment encourages minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and/or immigrant-owned small businesses located in Gateway communities to apply. Applications are due by Friday, May 29. Click here for a program summary and here to submit an application.

State Form PC Filing Deadline Extended 6 Months

Due to the widespread disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division of the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General has announced that it is extending by six months the deadline for all nonprofit filings for fiscal year 2019. This extension is in addition to the automatic six-month extension that many charities are granted. Click here for more information on how to submit Form PC.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

On March 19, the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation had announced that it was no longer accept applications to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Funds “due to the availability” of funds. Applications are currently being reviewed. The fund was originally given a $10 million infusion. Check Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation’s website here for updates.

Unemployment Insurance

If your nonprofit is facing difficult decisions regarding its workforce, consult MNN’s document, “Three Steps for Nonprofit Leaders Faced with Difficult Workforce Decisions.”

Nonprofit Unemployment Insurance Bill Filed in the State House

There is now an active proposal on Beacon Hill to provide financial forgiveness for nonprofits that self-insure for unemployment insurance. On Wednesday, State Representatives McMurtry and Elugardo filed HD 5042, An Act Assisting Nonprofits to Provide for COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits. The federal CARES Act provided an allotment for states to forgive 50% of the reimbursements owed to the state unemployment trust by self-insured nonprofits. This bill requires the Commonwealth to forgive the remaining 50%. MNN continues to work with State House leaders to successfully pass forgiveness legislation that mitigates the unique financial hardship faced by self-insured nonprofits, as well as other policies that support all Massachusetts nonprofits as they respond to the crisis.

How to request an extension in unemployment insurance payments: employers, including nonprofits, that are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 can request a 60-day extension in the deadline for quarterly unemployment insurance payments, which would normally fall on April 30th.
Here is important guidance from the Department of Unemployment Assistance on how to do so: employers severely impacted by COVID-19 who are not able to file and pay by April 30, 2020 may submit a written request by email for a 60-day extension on company letterhead, specifying how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19. Please email extension requests to this address no later than April 30, 2020. Approved requests will be relieved from quarter 1 of 2020 interest and penalties through June 30, 2020. Note: This includes quarterly claim payments owed by self-insured employers. MNN continues to advocate for swift passage of S.2618, which would extend the deadline through August.
Federal and state workforce agencies, and state legislative leaders, are taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers. For background on the policy issues related to nonprofits and unemployment insurance, read more in this blog post.
On April 9, 2020, the Department of Unemployment Assistance announced its implementation of three new public benefit programs that will a) expand unemployment eligibility; b) temporarily increase weekly benefits for all claimants; and c) allow additional categories of people to claim unemployment benefits. This new guidance follows unemployment expansions included in the federal CARES Act. See the updates here.

To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, on March 18, 2020, the Baker administration signed into law emergency legislation that allows new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.

The MA Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development is also filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. The following conditions apply:

  • Workers must remain in contact with their employer during the shutdown.
  • Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do.
  • An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shut-down to eight weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
  • If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers.

See more information on unemployment and other employment issues here.

Notes:

  • Pending federal legislation proposes further relief, including additional money for unemployment benefits, and relief to employers for charges related to unemployment benefits paid due to COVID-19.
  • For assistance with unemployment claims, check the MA Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) COVID-19 website.
  • DUA is hosting daily virtual town halls to provide assistance and answer questions.  Register for an upcoming town hall here. Find FAQs about COVID-19 related claims here, and a contact request form for additional questions here.

Relief for Nonprofit Boards

On April 3rd, Governor Baker signed into law emergency provisions that will permit nonprofits to relax their governance practices in light of public meeting limitations presented by COVID-19. The provisions at Section 16 of Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020 will temporarily allow members to meet remotely and vote by proxy.

Hemenway and Barnes has a helpful guide explaining what these emergency provisions mean for remote members meetings and governance: click here.

Governor Baker Issues Shelter-in-Place Advisory, Closes Non-Essential Businesses Until May 18

On Monday, March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued a shelter-in-place advisory, closed all non-essential businesses, and issued other important updates. The advisory was later extended until May 18, 2020. For more information, click here.


ACTIONS AND RESOURCES FOR NONPROFITS

How might the outbreak affect nonprofits?
As key service providers and organizations in frequent contact with the community, nonprofits may potentially face these and other impacts:

  • increased and sustained staff and volunteer absences;
  • disruption of services to your clients and communities;
  • disruption of supplies or services provided by your partners;
  • cancellation of programs or events (and corresponding reduced revenue);
  • increased demand for services/support from your clients and communities; and
  • budgetary implications related to strains on the economy.

What can nonprofits in Massachusetts do to respond?
Nonprofits should consider rescheduling or canceling programs or events, revisiting their work from home and sick leave policies, and thinking through ways to effectively communicate COVID-related updates with employees and other stakeholders. Nonprofits should also stay informed throughout the duration of the outbreak from reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Rescheduling or cancelling programs or events
Effective Sunday, March 15, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has banned gatherings of over 25 people. The order also banned in-house consumption in restaurants and bars, and closed public schools for the next three weeks (until April 5). Nonprofits should familiarize themselves with the full language of the ban here and stay up to date with news reports.

Additional considerations for rescheduling or cancelling programs and events include:

Revisit work from home and sick leave policies
Nonprofits may be considering adjustments to or implementations of a work from home policy out of concern for their employees’ health. Nonprofits should:

Communicate
Nonprofits play an important role in educating and reassuring employees, volunteers, and other stakeholders.

  • Talk with your team. Reassure your team that you care about their health and safety.
  • Make telecommuting options available for as many employees as possible. For businesses in which telecommuting is not an option or for particular duties that cannot be performed remotely, follow poper steps above to limit close contact, and prevent the spread of disease.
  • Urge employees to stay home if sick.
  • Promote good hygiene (washing hands frequently, covering coughs, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, etc.).
  • Remind employees of your organization’s policies related to illness and sick leave, and be flexible with sick leave benefits for those who are ill or who are recommended to stay home because they are high risk.
  • Place posters that encourage staying home when sickcough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrance to your workplace and in other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen.
  • Be mindful that different members of your team may perceive the threat differently or have special concerns based on their life circumstances. For example, persons with elderly family members may be especially concerned, and Asian Americans are likely facing increased racism. Leaders should be prepared to recognize, respond to and prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace. Do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin, and be sure to maintain confidentiality regarding the health of specific employees. Speak out if you see this happening. (Seattle & King County Public Health developed a great infographic.)
  • Read the Communications Network’s free “Coronavirus Crisis Communications Triage Kit” for how to communicate about the disease clearly, accurately, and effectively.

Travel
As of Friday, March 13, the CDC has issued a Level 3 travel notice (avoid all non-essential travel) for China, Iran, South Korea, and European countries, and a Level 2 notice (older or chronically ill individuals should consider postponing) for Japan. The Trump Administration instituted additional restrictions on travel from China, Iran, and Europe. Nonprofits should:

  • Postpone or cancel business-related travel to countries with travel notices or restrictions and seek alternative means of achieving the purpose of the trip.
  • Continue to monitor the CDC and other health organizations for updates on and exercise reasonable judgment in determining the best course of action for employee work travel. There are no current domestic travel restrictions.
  • Note that employers may not prohibit employees from personal travel. However, they may impose restrictions on employees returning from affected areas or potentially exposed to the virus, such as a two-week work-from-home or leave arrangement.

Stay informed

Financial planning

Other resources

Resources for individuals needing assistance

  • Mass211 – free hotline available 24/7 that connects Massachusetts residents with assistance programs. Dial “2-1-1”
  • Massachusetts Health Connector – if you need health insurance, you may qualify for coverage through the Health Connector if you’ve lost coverage from a job: an extended enrollment period is available through May 25, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • FoodSource Hotline – free hotline available through Project Bread that provides referrals to food banks and pantries across Massachusetts. Dial “1-800-377-1292”
  • MassLegalHelp – resources from Massachusetts legal aid programs to help residents with legal matters.
  • The Phoenix – offering live-streamed classes for people looking for addiction recovery services.