Nonprofits get more resources from American Rescue Plan

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Posted by By  Apr 30, 2021, 5:55am EDT. Retrieved from

The most recent Covid-19 relief bill offered more aid to nonprofits than the previous relief bills, but even with the support, recovery across the sector isn’t expected to be uniform.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act passed earlier this year expanded the relief available for nonprofits, adding $7.25 billion more to the Paycheck Protection Program, expanding eligibility to more nonprofits and covering more of the cost of unemployment, among other things.

David Heinen, vice president for public policy and advocacy at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, said the act allows state and local governments to use aid received from the legislation to help struggling businesses and nonprofits.

North Carolina got about $5.3 billion, “which is significant,” Heinen said, considering the state budget is usually in the range of $26 billion to $27 billion.

Cities and counties could also create a nonprofit relief fund from its supplemental funding, though that isn’t guaranteed, he said.

Heinen said earlier relief bills were helpful to nonprofits, but some provisions fell short.

About 45 percent of the 1,772 nonprofits surveyed by the North Carolina Office of Strategic Partnerships and The Policy Lab at Brown University had received a PPP loan, which Heinen said was a big source of relief from the first Covid-19 relief bill.

That legislation also tried to incentivize charitable donations by allowing the first $300 of those contributions to be written off people’s taxes in 2020. That was increased to $600 for married couples in December and extended into 2021 with the passage of the second Covid-19 relief bill.

“With the tax law changes that took effect in 2018, only 5 to 10 percent of people are using itemized deductions,” Heinen said. “Most people take the standard deduction and that means most people don’t get a tax deduction for their contributions.”

As nonprofits adjust to a new normal, Heinen said things won’t be the same as before a pandemic in some key ways, such as work and services continuing to be conducted remotely.

Nonprofits lost a lot of volunteers during the pandemic and they may not return after the pandemic because a large proportion of those volunteers were older, retired people, he said.

That could create challenges, he said. North Carolina nonprofits have about 400,000 employees, and if you factor in the contributions of volunteers, it’s the equivalent of about another 100,000 employees, Heinen said.

At least one nonprofit, Note in the Pocket, which is focused on providing clothes to impoverished and homeless school children in Wake County – and that received $34,700 in PPP funding – has weathered the pandemic by adapting the way it operates to the situation at hand.

Sarah Caldwell, the nonprofit’s development director, said Note in the Pocket had to rethink how it distributes clothes when the Wake County Public School System, which is one of its biggest referral partners, shifted to remote learning.

The nonprofit worked with some of its existing partners, such as the Boys and Girls Club and the Green Chair Project, to provide clothing to families that were coming to their events and receiving their services, Caldwell said.

“It was an opportunity for us to expand partnerships across Wake County and add in a new distribution channel that enabled us to reach over 1,300 children and family members last year through those emergency clothing efforts,” she said, adding those are expected to continue.

At the same time, Caldwell said some things are beginning to return to normal for the nonprofit in terms of employees returning to the office and volunteers beginning to trickle back in.

Many of Note in the Pocket’s volunteers were older retirees who were among the first to receive vaccines, so those volunteers have begun to return, Caldwell said.

The nonprofit also launched virtual volunteer opportunities, allowing individuals to pick up some clothing donations, sort them at home and then bring them back to the nonprofit, she said.

“We also, prior to Covid, had a lot of groups that would come and volunteer,” Caldwell said. “And a lot of corporate groups, and they’re not doing that yet."

Nonprofit briefs:

Lenovo providing opportunities for those with autism

Lenovo is working to provide opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Lenovo’s University Talent team, along with its employee resource group ABLE (A Better Lenovo for Everyone) and representatives from LiNC-IT (an internship program for individuals with neurodiversity in North Carolina) worked together to design Lenovo’s first intern program targeted for neurodiverse students. Neurodiverse refers to differences in the brain regarding sociability, learning, attention and mood. 

Lenovo has hired two neurodiverse interns in the Raleigh area who will join Lenovo on June 1, along with 100 other Lenovo interns working across North America.

The current unemployment rate for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is 86 percent, Lenovo said.

Food contributions continue in Muslim holy month

The Zakat Foundation of America has distributed nearly 400,000 pounds of fresh produce, dairy, meat and non-perishables this year to help serve people facing food insecurity.

And the foundation is looking to contribute during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which runs through May 12.

Muslims in North Carolina have historically always given back, said Nayma Kose, Zakat Foundation of America’s outreach and community engagement manager. Just last year, they impacted 50,000 North Carolina residents positively with grocery boxes, hygiene kits and hot meals.

“Ramadan is a month of spirituality and generosity,” Kose said. “North Carolina Muslims will be giving back to their own community this month as they grow stronger in their faith and appreciate their own numerous blessings. With these distributions, we will impact more than 15,000 North Carolina residents just this month."

Foundation offering grants for Carolinas nonprofits

The CCME Foundation, which supports health care improvement in the Carolinas, is accepting applications from nonprofits that work to improve health care for individuals and communities.

The foundation has one-year grants from $5,000 up to $50,000 and is especially interested in helping the uninsured and under-served populations. Applications are due June 15 and will be announced July 31.

Applicants with current 501(c)(3) status will be considered, including faith-based, hospital/provider/clinic, educational institutions and community service organizations.

Programs should focus on healthy lifestyles and quality of life; increasing access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care; consumer-centered care and decision making; dissemination of education and health-related information; and patient safety improvement.

Established in 2019, the CCME Foundation is funded by The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence (CCME), a separate nonprofit organization founded more than 36 years ago to improve health care quality in the Carolinas.