Understanding the Impact of Federal Coronavirus Relief Legislation

By Jessi Misslin - April 3, 2020
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Since early March, Congress has passed three significant pieces of legislation to provide relief and assistance to individuals, families, and business to combat the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. All three bills include provisions that can benefit 501(c)(3) charitable organizations as employers and businesses, as well as individuals working in the nonprofit sector, and philanthropists who support their work. While an array of helpful provisions and direct support will be available, it will be important for nonprofits and their supporters to get informed, be proactive, and act quickly to take advantage of these new benefits.

We know the challenges of this global crisis will be long and widely felt, and the federal action taken last month is likely just the beginning of an ongoing government response. Below is a high-level summary of the three bills passed in March and their potential relevance to the nonprofit sector, along with links to additional guidance and resources. In addition, the Council on Foundation (COF) hosted a recent policy briefing outlining the impact of the CARES Act on the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.

Our team is keeping tabs on the many philanthropic support agencies, such as COF, that are diligently posting updated resources as the crisis evolves. We will curate relevant information here on our site, but also encourage you to check out their resources as you continue to hone your philanthropic response strategy.

Legislation: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, (H.R. 6074)
Focus: Medical and Health Needs
Signed Into Law: March 6, 2020
Funds Appropriated: $8.3 billion

Summary: Support for tele-health for Medicare recipients; vaccine research and development; prevention, preparedness and response funding; and funds to combat the spread of COVID-19 internationally.

Charitable Impact: This first appropriation may translate into an increase in funding for grantee organizations that work directly with federal, state, and local government agencies on related health needs; and may increase support for global programs linked to USAID and other federal agencies focusing on international health.
Resources for additional information:
Council on Foundations summary

Legislation: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), (H.R. 6201)
Focus: Economic/Workplace, Food, and Medical Needs
Signed Into Law: March 18, 2020
Funds Appropriated: $104 billion

Summary: Support and protections to safeguard the economic and physical wellbeing of individuals and families. Includes support for unemployment benefits and paid sick and family leave for small businesses; expands food assistance for children and families; covers free coronavirus testing; expands protections for health workers; and includes additional state-level funding.

Charitable Impact: Nonprofits working directly with agencies receiving funds may benefit, and the added support provided for community needs may alleviate the burden on some nonprofits. Nonprofit employees will also be eligible for family and medical leave provisions and nonprofits as employers may benefit from certain tax credits.
Resources for additional information:
Council on Foundations summary

Legislation: Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES Act), (H.R. 748)
Focus: Economic Stimulus and Assistance
Signed Into Law: March 27, 2020
Funds Appropriated: $2 trillion

Summary: The largest economic stimulus in history, the CARES Act allocates billions of dollars in assistance to businesses, states, and local governments including small business loans, industry-specific relief funding, and direct financial assistance to most Americans.

Charitable Impact: The CARES Act includes provisions to benefit nonprofit donors and incentivize charitable giving, as well as benefits to nonprofit employees and nonprofits as businesses and employers. Specifically, it provides a new tax deduction for charitable donations up to $300; suspends or increases limitations on the tax-deductibility of charitable contributions; includes direct recovery rebates, which will translate into direct cash payments for individuals with an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married); expands unemployment insurance; provides tax incentives for employers to retain staff, provide student loan assistance, and defer social security tax payments; and offers a range of direct loan programs that can be utilized by 501(c)(3) charitable organizations.

Resources for additional information and in-depth analysis on federal relief packages:
Council on Foundations
Nonprofit Quarterly
Chronicle of Philanthropy

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