Coronavirus and Massachusetts Nonprofits

Last updated Tuesday, February 15, 2021.

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:


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.

GOVERNMENT GRANTS

On November 23, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the award of $650,000 in grant funds to community-based and faith-based organizations to help prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 among communities of color in the cities and towns hardest hit by COVID-19.  Through a rapid grant making approach and wide dissemination of the request for proposals, 146 applications were received from around the Commonwealth. Twenty organizations will receive grant awards ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, for the grant period ending February 28, 2021. The goal of COVID-19 Community Grants is to reduce COVID-19 infections, morbidity, and mortality among Black, Latinx, and other people of color in the hardest-hit cities in the Commonwealth. COVID-19 Community Grants are intended to engage community- and faith-based organizations in the development and delivery of effective messages and to further support hard-hit communities with education, training, and funding to effectively meet their communities’ specific needs. See a list of grantees here.

On November 18, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $10 million appropriation to community foundations across Massachusetts for immediate COVID-19 relief to be disseminated in their communities. As a part of the Partnership for Recovery, the Community Foundations Grant Program for COVID-19 Relief will support vital services such as food security, housing and utilities support, emergency childcare and transportation, and other unmet needs of the community. Nonprofits are encouraged to reach out to their local community foundation for more information.

REOPENING RESOURCES


PPP LOAN APPLICATION RESOURCES

  • 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.
  • The application form and instructions for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness are available on the SBA’s website. 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.
    • AAFCPAs has additional information–including step-by-step loan forgiveness calculation instructions–here.
  • FAQs on the PPP Loan Program were published by the SBA and Treasury Department and are accessible here.
  • 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.
  • 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 Policy Updates

On Monday, December 21, Congress passed a stimulus package to provide additional relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Important provisions for nonprofits were included in response to coordinated national nonprofit advocacy. Key nonprofit provisions include:

  • Second draw PPP loans: The bill provides $284 billion for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Nonprofits may qualify for an additional loan of up to $2 million if they 1) employ fewer than 300 people; and 2) experienced a decline in gross receipts of 25% in one of the four quarters in 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019. The bill expands the list of eligible loan expenses to include personal protective equipment, facilities modifications, and other worker protection expenditures, and simplifies the forgiveness application process for loans up to $150,000.
  • Unemployment insurance forgiveness: The bill extends the 50% federal financial forgiveness of unemployment insurance costs for self-insured nonprofits through March 14, 2021. As a reminder, the FY21 state budget extended the payment deadline for these costs owed to the Commonwealth to June 30, 2021.
  • Charitable Giving Incentive: The bill extends the federal $300 above-the-line charitable deduction through 2021, and includes a $600 deduction for couples filing jointly. The bill also extends for one year the previous stimulus law’s increased limits on deductible charitable contributions for individuals who itemize and for corporations.

The Main Street Lending Program

On July 17, the Federal Reserve announced details about two new loan options available to nonprofits. The Main Street Lending Program will seek to support nonprofit organizations that were in good financial standing prior to the pandemic. The Fed had solicited input from nonprofits through a focus group and open public comment period, and made several changes based on input received:
  • The minimum number of employees has been lowered to 10 (previously 50);
  • The total non-donation revenues have been eased to 60% of expenses for the period from 2017 through 2019 (previously 70% of revenues);
  • 2019 operating margin has been adjusted to 2% or more (previously 5%);
  • Current days cash on hand has been decreased to 60 days (previously 90 days); and
  • Current debt repayment capacity—ratio of cash, investments, and other resources to outstanding debt and certain other liabilities—has been adjusted to greater than 55% (previously 65%).
The minimum loan size remains $250,000, and loans are payable over 5 years. Click here for additional information about these loan options, and click here for answers to Frequent Asked Questions (FAQs).

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

Vaccine Guidance

Nonprofits are encouraged to check the state’s vaccine distribution websitewhich includes guidance regarding the vaccine distribution timeline, eligibility, and guidance on how to locate a vaccination clinic. Nonprofits should review the entity categories listed in Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 in order to determine when their staff and those they serve may be able to receive the vaccine. The website is updated weekly, so organizations are encouraged to check regularly as additional clarification on occupation groups is forthcoming. Nonprofits can sign up to receive vaccine updates and alerts here, and review a helpful graphic illustrating vaccine eligibility here.

State Vaccine Resources

Governor Baker Signs FY21 Budget

On Friday, December 11, 2020, Governor Baker signed the $45.9 billion FY21 budget, which will cover state finances through June of 2021. The final budget included important unemployment insurance relief for self-insured nonprofit employers. Read more here.

Unemployment Insurance

On December 11, Governor Baker signed the FY21 budget, which included important relief for self-insured nonprofits. The budget included a 6-month deadline extension for nonprofit employers that self-insure for their unemployment costs. Without this deadline extension, nonprofits across the Commonwealth were facing large balloon payments owed for unanticipated COVID-19 layoffs that occurred from March to December of 2020. As a result of the delay – which was written into the budget as Outside Section 81 – self-insured nonprofits will now have through June of 2021 to financially plan and secure the resources necessary to make their unemployment insurance payments.

Relief for Nonprofit Boards

On April 3rd 2020, 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.


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:

  • Read the United Way of Massachusetts Bay’s comprehensive listing, “Remote Work Resources for Nonprofits.”
  • Review their policies related to illness and sick leave to ensure that they are consistent with public health recommendations.
  • Prepare for the possibility of increased numbers of employee absences by updating or creating policies that support remote work and create systems for employees to utilize the option.
  • If a nonprofit does not currently have a work from policy and wants to draft one, see a sample remote work policy on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s website here for use as a template.
  • Read the CDC’s “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to the Coronavirus Disease.”
  • Read Littler’s “Coronavirus: Employer Action Items.”

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 sick, cough 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.

Stay informed

  • Read, listen to, and watch the news, and regularly check reputable sources such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and US CDC.
  • Reference the World Health Organization’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public.
  • Read the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease
  • Read the CDC’s Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response
  • Visit OSHA’s information page on COVID-19.
  • Nonprofit Risk Management Center has put out COVID-19: 5 Things to Know & Do
  • Subscribe to MNN’s newsletter or follow our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn feeds. We’ll continue to share resources and recommendations about how organizations can prepare and respond.

Financial planning

  • COVID-19 Tools and Resources for Nonprofits. Includes easy-to-use tools to help nonprofits determine cash flows, determine operating expenses, and surpluses/deficits – Nonprofit Finance Fund
  • COVID-19 FAQs for Nonprofits – BerryDunn

Other resources

  • Nonprofit Resources List “#NPCOVID19” – open-sourced Google document containing additional resources, tools, and more to help nonprofits respond to COVID-19.
  • JazzHR, an online hiring platform, is now offering free services for free essential care providers. Learn more.
  • Hemenway and Barnes – how to hold a member meeting when you can’t meet in person
  • Chamber of Commerce – Coronavirus Small Business Issues and Solutions Guide
  • Bringfood Initiative – Bringfood is designed to help food pantries (and others) respond to the need for home delivery services brought on by COVID-19.

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.
  • Nursing Home Abuse Center – Report nursing home abuse
  • The Phoenix – offering live-streamed classes for people looking for addiction recovery services.