Independent Sector Open Letter in Support of Nonprofits in SBA Process

Independent Sector has released an open letter calling on financial organizations that administer and directly impact the recipients of SBA 7(a) loans to prioritize nonprofits as loan recipients, recognizing them as essential to our nation’s safety net.  Nonnprofits account for a third of the country’s workforce and are the backbone of our recovery effort.  If you are interested in signing on to the letter, please email letters@independentsector.org by 11:59pm on April 8.  Here is the letter:

April 6, 2020

To American Bankers Association and Bank Policy Institute:

Thanks to each of you for your leadership in providing critical financial support as our nation navigates the response to COVID-19. On March 27, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The nonprofit sector is committed to ensuring that an essential, yet often overlooked, segment of our infrastructure receives access to the SBA 7(a) loan provisions of the CARES Act. We need your partnership to make this happen.

Independent Sector, a nonpartisan membership organization representing hundreds of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs, calls those who administer the loans and directly impact the recipients of 7(a) loans to prioritize nonprofits as loan recipients, recognizing them as essential to our nation’s recovery.

Nonprofits play an indispensable role in meeting the needs of our communities and supporting our economy in times of crisis. Even as this public health crisis has shut down vast portions of our economy, nonprofit organizations continue to serve on the frontlines to meet a wide range of needs in our communities, from providing meals to families, to offering emergency child care, to identifying emergency financial support for those who’ve lost their jobs in recent weeks.

The economic consequences of COVID-19 are staggering for all sectors of our economy. The nonprofit sector – the third largest workforce in our nation that contributes over five percent to the national GDP – is especially vulnerable because of what we expect to be precipitous declines in charitable giving and earned revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are, therefore, extraordinarily dependent upon equitable access to the financial assistance provisions of the CARES Act, especially the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and the Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act Program.

Small nonprofits, especially those operating in underserved areas, often have limited banking relationships, which may make it difficult for them to successfully navigate the loan process. Further, many banks are only extending loans to existing customers. This also may impede small nonprofits from obtaining a loan due to their prior bank history. In short, there is real concern that charities, particularly those that are led by people of color and/or serving communities of color or tribal communities, may find themselves shut out of the process to secure financial resources that are critical to their survival.

We cannot let this happen. Independent Sector stands ready, with our nonprofit and philanthropic partners, to work with government and private financial institutions to devise and deploy strategies that ensure there is equitable access to SBA 7(a) loans for all nonprofits that qualify, consistent with the intent and provisions of the CARES Act.

We need to get this right. By working together in partnership, we believe that we will. We urge you to support and include nonprofits as you administer SBA 7(a) loans and help make a difference in our communities.

Sincerely,

Dan Cardinali
President and CEO
Independent Sector

RI COVID-19 Fund Awards $2.4 Million to Nonprofits Providing Services and Basic Needs

Dozens of nonprofits on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis are getting $2.4 million in grants from a special fund created by the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island, which has now awarded $3.6 million in grants, including the first round of grants made March 27.

Among the organizations receiving funding from the COVID-19 Response Fund are the Blackstone Valley Emergency Food Center, Clinica Esperanza, the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, the East Bay Community Action Program, Newport Mental Health and the Northern RI Food Pantry.

“As our state prepares for a coming surge in this crisis, these grants have the potential to save lives,” said United Way of Rhode Island President and CEO Cortney Nicolato. “I am grateful for every donor for their support, and equally thankful for the resilient nonprofit employees who step up every single day to take care of our families and neighbors.”

The grants ranged from $10,000 to $75,000. Many will help local nonprofits provide food, housing and health care to Rhode Islanders affected by the crisis. Additionally, funding was awarded for medical supplies as care providers face unprecedented challenges to maintain operations and deliver services to those most in need.

“There isn’t anyone in our community who hasn’t been touched by this crisis, and nonprofits are the boots on the ground for all of us. Seeing donors and service providers rise to this unprecedented and growing challenge is inspiring,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

Full list of grantees

Application Information

The Foundation and United Way established the COVID-19 Response Fund on March 17 and have combined to raise $5.8 million in contributions.

LISC Joins with Verizon to Support Businesses with COVID-19 Recovery Fund

Understanding the toll of small businesses closing their doors to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Verizon will donate $2.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit that has invested $20 billion to fuel economic opportunity for people and communities across America. Over the course of the series, all viewers who tune in will be encouraged to tag their favorite local businesses and make a purchase in advance for when the crisis is over and the businesses reopen. As consumers engage, Verizon will unlock an additional $2.5 million in funds, bringing the total donation to a potential $5 million.

LISC will use the funds to provide grants of up to $10,000 to businesses facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19, especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises that don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital in historically underserved communities. LISC will launch an online process for small businesses to submit applications for grants (sign up here to stay updated on the process). Applications will be reviewed and then entered into a lottery. The grants are designed to help business owners fill urgent financial gaps – from paying rent to meeting payroll – until they can resume normal operations or other financing becomes available.  Updates

 

Citizens Announces $5 Million Commitment to Communities Impacted by COVID-19

Citizens Bank announced a $5 million commitment to support communities and businesses dealing with impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. These resources will back both a number of broad-based community support initiatives across the Citizens service area as well as specialized programs focused on providing aid to small businesses and their workforces.

“Responding to the needs of the communities we serve is at the heart of the Citizens Credo and we stand ready to help our neighbors during this unprecedented time,” said Bruce Van Saun, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Financial Group. “Through this initiative we will focus on addressing immediate community needs, while providing aid to small businesses so they can get back on their feet more quickly.”

The bank’s COVID-19 support effort will have two components:

  • A Community Support Relief program that will provide charitable contributions to community partners to assist with wider relief efforts. One example of this is charitable contributions to be committed to broad-based relief funds in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, with others to be determined. Longer term, the company plans to work with community partners to identify solutions to address changing needs.
  • A Small Business Relief and Recovery program that will provide charitable contributions and other assistance aimed at helping small businesses restore full operations, rehire and recover in the months to come.

In addition to the resources for small business relief announced today, Citizens will implement several initiatives that will enable customers and colleagues to lend their support. These include enabling users of the bank’s cash-back credit cards to designate all or part of their cash rewards to the relief and recovery fund. Further, Citizens will create a mechanism through which customers, colleagues and others can donate to support the effort.

In addition to providing new funding, Citizens removed programmatic restrictions on 2020 funding to non-profit partners to allow support to be diverted to the areas of greatest need.

Van Saun added: “While the short term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will present unique challenges for all of us, it is important that banks step up and play a critical role in helping provide economic stability to our communities. Citizens looks forward to continuing to support our community partners and customers throughout this difficult time.”

CharterCARE Foundation COVID-19 Fund Supports Local Nonprofits

The Chartercare Foundation’s COVID19 Response Fund has acted quickly to address needs of nonprofits in RI. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly $100,000 to the following agencies:

· Meals on Wheels to address increasing food insecurities among elderly and shut-ins;

· Thundermist Health for a call center and outdoor triage unit serving 52,000 patients in 3 locations;

· Meeting Street School for stabilization for vulnerable families in the early intervention program through tele-health initiatives;

· RI Free Clinic for triage response for uninsured adults thru teleservice infrastructure;

· Comprehensive Community Action for a telehealth initiative at 4 sites

· Women’s Resource Center of Newport for remote clinical mental health support for victims of domestic violence.

In addition, the Foundation has partnered with Family Service of RI in broadening the scope of distribution of Be Safe Kits to disadvantaged families throughout Rhode Island.

The Foundation will continue to monitor community needs and may open a second round of funding. For details on this and other grant opportunities, please visit www.chartercarefoundation.org.

Champlin Foundation Gift Enables Rhode Island Nonprofit Hospitals to Increase COVID-19 Tests

The Champlin Foundation announced today a $1.6+ million, four-pronged philanthropic approach to support Rhode Island’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commitment includes $600,000 that will allow four non-profit hospitals to acquire testing and diagnostic machines to dramatically increase the number of COVID-19 tests that can be taken and completed each day.

“No one has seen anything the likes of this public health crisis and the economic repercussions. While it’s created a good deal of uncertainty, it has also brought the community together even as we keep our social distance. The Champlin Foundation is taking unprecedented steps to support Rhode Island’s public health response and core members of our state’s nonprofit community,” said Champlin Foundation Executive Director Nina Stack. “The Foundation is making a $1.6 million commitment of new money and offering flexibility to ease restrictions on certain existing grants. Our grants are helping the state’s nonprofit hospital systems acquire the necessary testing equipment to increase COVID testing capacity as well as providing front-line and earned revenue-based nonprofits with capital liquidity during trying and uncertain economic times. Widespread events like this require a full community response and we’re proud to stand up with Rhode Islanders in every part of the state to do all we can to assist in this health and economic crisis.”

With Champlin’s support, Lifespan, Care New England and South County Health will be able to substantially increase the number of COVID-19 tests conducted each day, with the deployment of five new testing machines.  The support also allows Landmark Health in Woonsocket and Westerly Hospital to expand their laboratory equipment to more effectively determine non COVID-19 respiratory illnesses.  With faster testing and results it allows more efficient use of available resources.

“These are unpredictable times for everyone and especially for those on the frontline preparing for the inevitable surge of infected patients,” said Timothy J. Babineau, MD, President and CEO of Lifespan. “We’re all in this together, and the incredible generosity of The Champlin Foundation to equip Rhode Island Hospital with COVID-19 testing machines underscores their long history of support of our state’s vital health care system. Because of the foundation, we will soon have the ability to test three times as many patients in a single day. This gift will literally save lives in the days and weeks to come.”

“These machines are of vital importance in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the grant that The Champlin Foundation has stepped up to provide, Care New England will soon be able to more quickly turn around in-house testing, and for more patients right when it’s needed,” said James Fanale, MD, President and CEO of Care New England.

 The $600,000 gift to the state’s nonprofit hospitals is one part of a four-pronged, $1.6 million response that Champlin’s Distribution Committee approved this week. The other components include:

  • $1M Emergency Capital Liquidity Fund: Working with its longtime grantees, Champlin will conduct an RFP process to award grants to eligible agencies or organizations. Priority will be given to organizations that are directly responding to the COVID-19 crisis and those organizations that have experienced a substantial loss of earned revenue (i.e. childcare tuition, program fees, ticket sales, etc.). The RFP details are currently being drafted and will be distributed to eligible grantees in the coming weeks.
  • Easing of Restrictions on Open Grants: The fastest and simplest way Champlin can help existing grantees who have had to ramp up in service delivery or have been cut off from earned revenue is to release restrictions on their existing open grants. On a case-by-case basis, organizations will be considered for flexibility to repurpose capital funds awarded through Champlin’s past grant allocations. This flexibility could potentially free up millions of dollars of revenue for nonprofits and agencies across the state.
  • Extended Deadline for 2020 Capital Grant Applications: Earlier this year, The Champlin Foundation introduced an easy-to-use online grant application portal. The Foundation began accepting applications on March 1, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Foundation has decided to extend the application deadline from April 30, 2020 to May 31, 2020. This extended deadline will allow agencies and organizations to better assess their needs and priorities that may have been impacted by COVID-19.

The Foundation’s first ever grant was $50 to Rhode Island Hospital in 1933 to purchase eyeglasses for Rhode Islanders in need. Since then, The Champlin Foundation has awarded nearly $600 million to fund capital projects for Rhode Island non-profit organizations. These investments have fostered better medical care, improved education, expanded access to social services, conservation of open spaces, preservation of historic buildings, enrichment of the arts, advancement of animal welfare and more. Over the years, the Foundation has proactively responded to catastrophic events and crisis situations, including Rhode Island’s credit union collapse, the Station Nightclub Fire, and the fallout from the Great Recession.

RI COVID-19 Response Fund Awards $1.2 Million to Local Nonprofits

United Way of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Foundation have announced the first round of funding for local nonprofit agencies at the forefront of COVID-19 response.

$1.2 million in grants will be distributed to 27 local agencies in the coming days.

Grantees will use the funding to provide direct service to Rhode Islanders impacted by COVID-19. Funds will go toward food, personal care products, and assistance with household expenses. Additionally, funding was awarded to health centers, community centers, and shelters as they face unprecedented challenges to maintaining operations and delivering services to those most in need.

Read the full list of grantees.

A joint grants review committee — composed of team members from United Way and the Foundation — are working together to review applications and make funding decisions in real-time.

“We are hearing from the nonprofit community every day about the disruption to services caused by this pandemic. Being able to quickly support them, and Rhode Islanders with their most basic needs, has the ability to not only provide comfort but also to save lives,” said United Way of Rhode Island president and CEO Cortney Nicolato.

“As this health crisis will continue for some time, I am grateful for every donor who has stepped up so far, for the donations to come, and to every nonprofit employee who continues to show up, every day, to take care of our families and neighbors.”

Together, United Way of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Foundation established the COVID-19 Response Fund on March 17 and have raised more than $5.2 million in contributions.

“Throughout the entire state, nonprofit organizations are stepping up to assist neighbors in need during this unprecedented and uncertain time. It’s truly heartening to see the response,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

“We’re committed to getting this funding to where it is needed the most. Thanks to our generous donors, these grants will provide a safety net to support many Rhode Islanders. We also welcome more donations to the fund, so that we are able to continue meeting community need.”

Gifts to the fund can be made in any amount. Donations will be accepted as long as the need continues.


 

Philanthropy Sector Pledges to Be Responsive and Equitable Facing COVID-19 Crisis

The Council on Foundations has joined in a sector-wide Philanthropy Call to Action to be flexible in light of the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.  United Philanthropy Forum and many peer organizations have signed on to a philanthropic pledge:

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has created a global health and economic crisis that is testing every one of us. We know that the shocks of this “new normal” are severe and unanticipated for our sector and grantee partners.

As leaders in philanthropy, we recognize the critical need to act with fierce urgency to support our nonprofit partners as well as the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19.

We invite funders and other leaders in the philanthropic sector to join us in making these commitments and collectively holding ourselves accountable to them by signing this pledge of action.


Our Pledge

Over the days, weeks, and months ahead, each of our foundations pledges to:

  • Loosen or eliminate the restrictions on current grants. This can include: converting project-based grants to unrestricted support; accelerating payment schedules; and not holding grantees responsible if conferences, events, and other project deliverables must be postponed or canceled.
  • Make new grants as unrestricted as possible, so nonprofit partners have maximum flexibility to respond to this crisis. We will also support organizations created and led by the communities most affected that we may not fund currently.
  • Reduce what we ask of our nonprofit partners, postponing reporting requirements, site visits, and other demands on their time during this challenging period.
  • Contribute to community-based emergency response funds and other efforts to address the health and economic impact on those most affected by this pandemic.
  • Communicate proactively and regularly about our decision-making and response to provide helpful information while not asking more of grantee partners.
  • Commit to listening to our partners and especially to those communities least heard, lifting up their voices and experiences to inform public discourse and our own decision-making so we can act on their feedback. We recognize that the best solutions to the manifold crises caused by COVID-19 are not found within foundations.
  • Support, as appropriate, grantee partners advocating for important public policy changes to fight the pandemic and deliver an equitable and just emergency response for all. This may include its economic impact on workers, such as expanded paid sick leave; increasing civic participation; access to affordable health care; and expanded income and rental assistance. It should also include lending our voices to calls to action led by grantee partners, at their direction and request.
  • Learn from these emergency practices and share what they teach us about effective partnership and philanthropic support, so we may consider adjusting our practices more fundamentally in the future, in more stable times, based on all we learn.

Take the Pledge

We encourage other foundations and philanthropic organizations to join in making these commitments and holding ourselves accountable to them by signing this pledge of action.

COVID-19’s impacts are reaching every corner of the world. We must stand together. By acting together to provide flexibility to our grantee partners, we believe we can help them move their essential work forward powerfully and confidently in this critical moment.

Sign On Now

Tufts Health Plan Foundation Commits $1 Million to Address COVID-19

Tufts Health Plan Foundation is making an additional $1 million available to efforts driven by community and to nonprofit organizations supporting older people affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

Tufts Health Plan Foundation will continue to support healthy aging by funding organizations assisting with access to food, at-home support, housing, transportation, medical supplies and other services, especially for older people and those most vulnerable.  Those with underlying health conditions and people over 60 have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. It is especially important to ensure resources are available to provide these supports and services.

The Foundation announced that $125,000 will be given to Rhode Island efforts including Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and the RI COVID-19 Response Fund (Rhode Island Foundation/United Way of Rhode Island). 

“We are grateful to the local, state and federal public health agencies, first responders, and the many community organizations who are stepping up to respond to this challenge,” said Tom Croswell, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan. “We hope this funding will provide local organizations flexibility in their operations to respond to pressing and emerging needs in the communities they support.”

Tufts Health Plan Foundation also will provide current grantees the flexibility to adjust their budgets to support new work related to COVID-19. In addition, donations made by Tufts Health Plan employees to nonprofit organizations responding to COVID-19 are eligible for a two-for-one match, effectively tripling their donations. This double match will allow employees to give to where they see the biggest needs in their communities.

“We’re grateful to our board for their swift action,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, president of Tufts Health Plan Foundation and vice president for corporate citizenship at Tufts Health Plan.  “It’s our responsibility to listen to community, to be nimble, relevant and responsive.”

The Importance of Supporting Nonprofit Sector in Relief Efforts

We are gathering information about the needs of Rhode Island nonprofits in this difficult time.  United Way and Rhode Island Foundation have done an initial short survey, identifying supply needs (mostly food for distribution, sanitation supplies, and technology for remote work), client financial needs (rental assistance, utility assistance, food, unemployment, etc.) and their organizational financial losses resulting from their compliance with public health restrictions.
At the same time that many nonprofits are providing critical services to the most vulnerable in our communities, virtually all of Rhode Island’s nonprofits have lost some or all of the revenue they depend on.  In order to protect public health, they have cancelled fundraising events and arts performances, and are not able to continue programming for which they have fee for service contracts.  In addition, moving forward many of their donors are themselves facing job losses and financial hardships and will not be able to contribute support.
Charitable nonprofits are not currently eligible for Small Business Administration emergency loans so there are currently no resources to help community-based organizations, service providers, and arts organizations survive this crisis and the resulting economic downturn, which John Macintosh of SeaLevel Partners is calling an “extinction level event” for nonprofits.
United Philanthropy Forum, as well as countless other nonprofits, have called for Congress to specifically include the charitable sector in COVID-19 relief legislation.
If members are interested in connecting with members of Congress in Rhode Island or other districts in which you have operations, the Forum, Independent Sector and the National Council of Nonprofits recommend that the relief package:
  • Expressly include charitable nonprofits in the $200 billion loan fund for businesses. The charitable sector needs an immediate infusion of $60 billion and the loan program is a fast way to get cash in the hands of organizations serving immediate needs in communities, yet facing lost and declining revenue due to the pandemic.
  • Clarify that charitable nonprofits of all sizes are able to participate in the emergency Small Business Loan Program by using the tax-law definition of charitable organizations (Sec. 501(c)(3) public charities) and removing the language that excludes nonprofits that are eligible to receive Medicaid reimbursements.
  • Improve the above-the-line charitable deduction by raising the cap to $2,000 and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on their 2019 taxes (due on July 15), and afterwards through 2021.