This post was updated on Thursday, March 26, 2020
We are living in unprecedented times. A sentiment that has become all too familiar for so many of us as communities around the globe continue to navigate these unfamiliar circumstances. As we prepare for (or settle into) changes in our daily lives during this time of uncertainty and social distance, open communication and resource sharing have become more important than ever before.
To provide you with helpful information on general COVID-19 guidance, technology resources, and financial assistance for impacted nonprofits, we've created this page and will keep it updated as the current situation progresses. Let's get through this together!
- Responding to COVID-19: Tips for Staying Safe and Productive
- Federal Financial Resources for Impacted Nonprofits
- Additional Publications and Resources
Responding to COVID-19: Tips for Staying Safe and Productive
1. Stay informed and follow the guidance.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published public health information on their website, including guidance on travel, social distancing, and what to do if you are sick.
The White House, Department of Health and Human Services, and the CDC have also launched the site www.coronavirus.gov, where the general public, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, healthcare professionals, and others can access centralized information on everything from health and safety guidelines to communication and financial assistance resources.
According to the guidance provided on the site, anyone who can do so should “work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.” However, if you work for an organization that provides critical services, there are actions you can take to minimize risk to staff members, volunteers, and the populations you serve. For example, many organizations have temporarily scaled back volunteer opportunities, while others have instituted “drive-thru” or delivery services. The Nonprofit Times published an article that includes tips on how nonprofits can implement emergency plans to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure at their organizations.
2. Maintain open lines of communication.
"Team building doesn't have to stop at the office. Remember to take time to stay connected with each other."—Jennipher Noble, Customer Success, Blackbaud
Jennipher Noble and Nate Hug, members of Blackbaud's customer success team, have shared these tips on staying connected and productive during this time of physical distance.
- Opt for video calls: while it may be tempting to keep your webcam off during conference calls, adding video to your remote conversations is a great way to stay engaged and feel connected to the people on the other end of the line.
- Make sure your calendar is up-to-date: this is always good practice, but it's even more important with so many people needing to collaborate from separate locations. Your online calendar is a great tool not only for keeping you organized but also for making it easy for your colleagues to find the best times to connect with you.
- Keep those (virtual) "water cooler" conversations going: teamwork and collaboration is essential for organizations to accomplish important mission objectives, and a key component is effective communication—not only when it comes to work-related topics but human-related ones as well. Taking the time to socialize provides a much needed mental break and helps build stronger relationships with your coworkers.
3. Minimize disruptions with supporting technology.
- Dropbox Business and HelloSign Enterprise are available for free to nonprofit organizations that are fighting COVID-19
- Microsoft Teams is free for six months and the free version of Office 365 is available to all educational institutions
- Google Hangouts Meet is free until July 1st
Federal Financial Resources for Impacted Nonprofits
Federal Financial Assistance
On March 25th, the U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion bill to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. Blackbaud's government relations expert, Sally Ehrenfried, shares an update on what this means for the social good sector. We'll provide additional details as they become available.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020 and takes effect on April 2nd. As summarized by the National Council of Nonprofits, this bill, the 2nd COVID-19 stimulus package, requires nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 employees to provide emergency COVID-19 related sick to their employees.
Nonprofit organizations will receive tax credits applied to the employer’s portion of payroll taxes paid for the impacted employee. Any paid leave costs that exceed the amount of payroll taxes owed will be refundable to the employer at the end of each quarter. If the paid sick leave is exhausted by the employee, the employee would be eligible for COVID-19 related paid FMLA at 2/3 of an employee’s usual pay.
The bill provides a refundable tax credit equal to 100 percent of qualified family leave wages paid by an employer for each calendar quarter, allowed against the employer portion of payroll taxes. These provisions would expire at the end of December 2020.
The legislation also provides free testing for COVID-19, $2 billion in unemployment assistance, $1 billion in food aid, and increased federal funding for Medicaid. It suspends the SNAP work requirements and grants greater waiver authority to the states during the crisis.
Disaster Assistance Loans
The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced earlier this month that it is extending disaster relief loans to small businesses, including nonprofits, to help alleviate economic injury caused by COVID-19. Working with state officials, SBA will be offering loans of up to $2 million through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
As SBA explains, “These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.”
Learn more about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
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.
Additional Publications and Resources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
- COVID-19 Daily Situation Reports, WHO
- Nonprofits and Coronavirus, COVID-19, National Council of Nonprofits
- Special Report: Help for Nonprofits During the Coronavirus and Uncertain Economic Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
- From Sustainability to Survivability: How Nonprofits Can Manage Uncertainty Amid Crisis, Spectrum Nonprofit Services
- Coronavirus Resource Center, American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)
- Coronavirus Impact, Accounting Today
- COVID-19: Blackbaud’s Business Continuity Plans
- Social Good Organizations Responding to the COVID-19 Situation, Blackbaud Newsroom
- How to Protect Your Organization from Phishing Scams and Fraud, Kendra DeWitt, sgENGAGE
- 6 Tips for Managing a Virtual Workforce, sgENGAGE