Congress Needs to Act Immediately to Provide #Relief4Charities

By Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International

There’s a “pool committee” in my community comprised of a group of volunteers who conduct rigorous cleanings of the pool and patio furniture so residents can enjoy it over the summer. (I realize that I’m lucky). The chair of the committee makes a loud declaration whenever new people enter the gates and reminds them of the pool rules regarding limited capacity, etc. He begins every announcement by stating, “There’s still a pandemic going on.” As Congress continues to engage in partisan politics, they could benefit from this reminder.

The Senate conducted a procedural vote on a Republican “skinny” bill that would provide limited relief for nonprofits, which the Democrats blocked from moving forward. While we are encouraged by the inclusion of an increased cap on the temporary universal charitable deduction (UCD) in the bill, we believe the UCD should be made permanent to provide the giving incentive beyond 2020. Furthermore, we continue to work with other national nonprofits as part of a #Relief4Charities Coalition to advance other priorities. Goodwill Industries International signed on to the following statement:

“An engaged and effective charitable sector is critical to helping our nation’s communities and economy recover. Charitable nonprofits, like the millions of people they serve, are struggling amidst the ongoing turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic. We appreciate the acknowledgement by the Senate that nonprofits are suffering and believe a proposed increase in the universal charitable deduction is a good start. However, nonprofits offering critical services and supporting jobs in communities across the country need more support to keep their doors open and continue to offer support to individuals and families.

Nonprofits represent the nation’s third largest industry, with more than 12 million employees who are at the forefront of helping Americans through these difficult times. These charities provide everything from food and shelter to medical and mental health services to education and cultural and spiritual support. Yet, at a time when Americans need these services the most, donations and other earned revenue sources continue to decline as demand for many services continues to grow.

It is imperative that Congress enact significant bipartisan coronavirus relief legislation as soon as possible. Final legislation should include not only an increase to the universal charitable deduction and extend that deduction at least through 2021, but it should also extend a new round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to nonprofits of all sizes, expand refundable payroll tax credits, provide forgivable loans to mid-size and large nonprofits that have thus far been unable to access this necessary aid, provide full unemployment benefit reimbursement for nonprofits that self-insure,  and continue emergency funding programs to provide nonprofits with financial support to maintain services protecting vulnerable families and frontline responders. These are all provisions with broad bipartisan support in both chambers.

These measures would offer immediate and critical relief to a sector that is providing help to people in countless ways during this crisis. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure nonprofits can continue their essential work as part of our nation’s social and economic fabric through this pandemic and beyond.”

The last time Congress passed bipartisan COVID-19-related relief was back in late March. Since then, both sides of the aisle have continued to play politics as usual, and it does not appear as if negotiations will pick up again until after the election. In the meantime, people continue to lose their lives, livelihoods, homes, jobs and more as a result of the virus.

As nonprofits like Goodwill organizations are going to be required to step up and help our communities recover, we need relief as well. Indeed, there’s still a pandemic going on, and Congress needs to act.