Charitable Nonprofit Letter on Urgently Needed COVID Relief
At this time of a worldwide pandemic, economic uncertainty, and national turmoil, there can be little doubt that America desperately needs leadership, unity, and aggressive actions to overcome these and many other challenges. The undersigned charitable nonprofit organizations take this opportunity to identify the unique challenges charitable organizations continue to face and seek your support for urgently needed relief in forthcoming COVID legislation that will enable charitable organizations to contribute to our nation’s relief, recovery, and rebuilding.
We deeply appreciate the relief enacted in 2020; many of the people and communities we serve would have suffered even more greatly during the pandemic and economic crises if you had not acted. In particular, we are grateful that Congress included charitable nonprofits in the Families First Act, the CARES Act, and the year-end COVID relief law. However, we note that those Acts often did so by inserting nonprofits into existing or predetermined programs designed for for-profit businesses that face very different challenges. As we continue to partner with government to help defeat the virus and restart the economy, we urge you to consider specific, dedicated policy solutions that will enable nonprofits to help rebuild our communities.
Policymakers at all levels of government continue to depend on nonprofits serving their communities through the depths of the pandemic and economic downturn. The assumption that nonprofits will always be there to fill the gaps, however, is at grave risk nearly one year into these crises. Nonprofits employ more people than the financial, construction, and even manufacturing industries, and the charitable sector has suffered as much or more than the various industries that have sought special treatment or bailouts.
Charitable nonprofits have risen to the crises our nation is enduring. They are stretching beyond all reasonable measures and continue to advance their missions despite unfathomable challenges. Most charitable organizations did not shut down or sit out the pandemic. The miles-long lines at food banks are only the most glaring and obvious proof that the demand for nonprofit services has skyrocketed. Other tragic examples abound. Calls for domestic violence services jumped by 69 percent between March and August last year. Nonprofits helping homeless people did not close their doors to wait out the pandemic; rather, new services, protocols, and expenses became necessary. Nonprofit health organizations have provided trusted, up-to-date information about the pandemic and ways to protect health and continued critical research. Cultural institutions continued to have structural costs while adapting to a virtual reality by developing programming to provide solace, education, and connection to those who were isolated. Community and afterschool facilities that could not be used during shutdown periods for their original purposes were adapted to other urgent needs, such as food preparation and distribution, childcare for the children of essential workers, and more.
We anticipate that 2021 will be even more devastating to the work of nonprofits. The pre-pandemic nonprofit workforce of 12.3 million dedicated employees has lost nearly 930,000 nonprofit jobs, including 51,000 in December 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Those lost jobs mean there are nearly a million fewer people providing services on which their fellow Americans depend. The rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates presage even greater nonprofit unemployment and public need in the months ahead. Similarly, nonprofit revenues are likely to decline sharply in 2021 as individuals are less able to make charitable donations and state and local governments make draconian spending cuts to human services and other programs frequently performed by charitable nonprofits. Without immediate relief from Congress and the Administration, charitable organizations will not have the capacity or resources to be the backbone of communities upon which the American people rely.