COVID-19: April 30 NAO Update

by | May 1, 2020 | Event


April 30, 2020
Hello Nonprofit Colleagues and Supporters,
It is the end of April. It has been a tough month for all of us. We’ve been sheltering in place for most of six weeks now as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through our communities. There have been a lot of changes and we will go into the month of May with many uncertainties. We need to keep reminding ourselves that no one can predict the future, but we can embrace our present state – even in its discomfort – and prepare for eventualities. With that in mind, I want to share with all of you a poem that Allison Specter, Director of Development at Write Around Portland shared with us in a postcard of appreciation she sent our team. (Thank you Allison!)
The Cusp of Change
Let me fully know this moment –
For within this moment lies all moments.
Let me feel the tension pull me to fear and peace,
Let me know the uncertainty of the future,
And the future of my world.
Let me hold the anxieties and the worries in the same hand as the
Character of repeated history:
Storms and chaos hold possibility and opportunity.
May I fully feel this moment –
For as the seasons go and come and go again –
So the changes will come and go
And I will find peace on the cusp of this change.
“The Cusp of Change” was written by Sharon White, A Write Around Portland writer at Willamette Falls Hospice in fall 2008. More information at Follow WriteAroundPDX on Facebook and Twitter for daily #breakforjoy writing, writing prompts, and inspiration.
The month of May will be better if we keep reminding ourselves what we can make of the possibilities and opportunities before us.
PPP Loan Processing
SBA and Treasury announced that yesterday from 4 p.m. ET until midnight last night, SBA systems were only accepting loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion. They state the reason is “to ensure access to the PPP loan program for the smallest lenders and their small business customers.” It is fully expected that the PPP will run out of funding in the next day, as the final loans are processed.
Just this morning, we heard from a many-decades veteran of community banking that the SBA came out with a guidance for the banks early Wednesday: the 10-day funding window (calendar days) from when the SBA application entry into E-Tran was accepted to when the funds are in the borrower’s checking account is an absolute deadline. Banks who don’t do that risk invalidating their guarantee from the SBA. Further, if it isn’t funded within 20 calendar days, the application will fall off the E-Tran system.
This could challenge banks who bit off more than they could chew for their back-office to process that many applications. The concern is that mid-size to bigger banks that rely on computer systems as their business model could “prioritize” those applications that get funded. We reached out to Linda Navarro, President and CEO of the Oregon Bankers Association who reminded us that:
“Each bank is drawing its own conclusions based on its own experience and what it sees in its marketplace. I can tell you from my work with our member banks that their systems have improved significantly from Monday’s launch (of Phase 2) and banks are seeing more applications they submit get approved. That said, there will undoubtedly be plenty of businesses that don’t get funding because there is so much more demand than capacity. Oregon alone has about 450,000 business entities with less than 500 employees, and the criteria being pretty minimal for PPP means many have sought the funds. I really hope these businesses aren’t the ones who most need it, including our non-profit community.”
One tip Linda suggested is that nonprofits should ensure getting all required documents in to your lender on time to be funded on time. Another is talking to your banker and pressing for funding within the deadlines. It would be a huge challenge for a bank if their applicants that were previously approved ended up being dismissed because they weren’t funded in the 20-calendar days’ window. Linda told us banks are very aware of this, and will do everything they can on their side to meet the deadline.
As NAO advised before, it is an acceptable and wise practice to have applications in with several lenders given the stops and starts of different banks in administering their applications. But know that SBA’s E-Tran will only accept one PPP application for any one Tax Payer ID number (TIN#). It is a safety valve that will not allow borrowers to double dip, which is considered fraud. Something that bankers are reporting they are seeing is a rejection of a submitted E-Tran application, but the system doesn’t tell them anything other than that there was another application that has been processed ahead of the one they attempted to process for that TIN. The SBA and banks are trying to avoid fraud the best they can through our Know Your Customer compliance.
The key defense for a nonprofit who learns of a rejection of their PPP application in E-Trans due to the prior application decline message, is to act swiftly and track down the issue immediately. Whether it is another application that you submitted to a different bank that went through OR potentially a fraud situation. (Yes, emergencies bring out the scammers!) You need to advocate for yourself and not wait for someone to figure it out for you.
We all know there are only two degrees of separation in Oregon. Our banking community is no different. While they are certainly competing for our nonprofit business, I know and have seen the way that these community bankers are connecting with each other across institutions to ensure that our nonprofits don’t get shut out. Be up front with your banker that you’ve got two applications in and advocate for yourself to get those E-Tran numbers as soon as you can. They understand and we have seen incredible acts of grace as one bank withdraws a second application after another bank confirms the E-Tran number for that nonprofit.
You can read the SBA’s most recent additions to their FAQ sheet related to this issue updated here.
At the Federal Level
Representatives Moulton/Fitzpatrick Letter Sent to U.S. House of Representatives Leadership
Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) sent a letter signed by 144 Representatives (130 Democrats, 14 Republicans), to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy yesterday. It states, “As we work to build on the CARES Act in the next relief package, we cannot overlook the needs of these community-based institutions and must ensure that charitable nonprofits are fully supported in their service on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis.” The letter calls on Congress to expand nonprofit access to financial relief and support, increase unemployment reimbursement for nonprofits, and expanded charitable giving incentives. The letter is also endorsed by 63 nonprofit and philanthropy-serving organizations. Read the news release and letter.
Of our Oregon delegation, Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Peter DeFazio signed the letter. I hope that you will help us to bring the contents of this letter to Oregon Representatives who did not sign the letter: Representatives Blumenauer, Schrader, and Walden. If you are represented by any of these three representatives, please send them your thoughts on how important your nonprofit is to your community and the needs that you are facing. You are welcome to copy the language in the Oregon Nonprofit Community Letter that 348 organizations signed and NAO delivered to our Congressional delegation.
U.S. Department of Labor Guidance
Although no revisions or repairs have been announced to what can only be termed cruel guidance issued by the Labor Department regarding unemployment reimbursements from self-insuring entities like nonprofits and tribal governments, the DOL is backpedaling from the Unemployment Insurance Program Letter it issued Monday night. Strongly worded statements from NAO, other state associations and led by the National Council of Nonprofits appear to have raised this issue to the attention of policymakers on the Hill. Staff for the House and Senate tax committees grilled Department officials who responded that the guidance is really just two examples and not mandatory. White House officials also learned of the outrage from the nonprofit community and are looking into what can be done. More to come soon, we hope.
IRS issues FAQs on Employee Retention Credit
The headline on this item should be “heads up, no news yet.” The IRS today posted 94 FAQs explaining the Employee Retention Credit provision of the CARES Act that’s intended to encourage employers to maintain employment during the crisis. The refundable tax credit is 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. One way for employers to qualify for the credit is to show significant decline in gross receipts. The new guidance explains how this is to be calculated for “non-tax-exempt organizations” (aka for-profit businesses), but punts on answering the question for nonprofits. At Question/Answer 46, it states: “The IRS plans to issue future guidance addressing how tax-exempt organizations determine their gross receipts for the purpose of determining whether the organization had a significant decline in gross receipts (i.e., had less than 50 percent of gross receipts during a calendar quarter in 2020 compared with the same calendar quarter in 2019).” NAO will keep watching this space and bring you the latest as soon as we heard it.
Special Ask The Expert session
I am delighted to announce that NAO will be presenting a special Ask The Expert session next week with nationally renowned nonprofit expert Andy Robinson. We have had the privilege of bringing Andy to Oregon several times over the past few years and his sessions are always standing room only. In the session – Board Members: How You Can and Should Step Up, Andy will cover nonprofit board responsiveness and board governance during a time of massive uncertainty. NAO’s online sessions are capped at 500, so register early here.
NAO’s COVID-19 Listserv Forum
It’s been a month since we launched NAO’s COVID-19 listserv forum for nonprofit leaders and we’ve had robust peer-to-peer discussion and advice on various topics, the most popular being navigating the Paycheck Protection Program application process. The objective of the forum is to provide a peer-to-peer communications forum for nonprofit leaders dealing with COVID-19-related issues/challenges for their organizations and communities. Executive directors, board members, and nonprofit staff leading COVID-19 response for their NPOs are invited to join. To subscribe, send an e-mail with the subject line “Subscribe” to
Upcoming online sessions for nonprofits
Crisis Engagement: 12 Tasks to Sustain Donors in Turbulent Times, Thursday, April 30, 2 – 3 p.m. PT: Matt Lehrman, Founder of Social Prosperity Partners will discuss ways to sustain the support of your donors, members, volunteers, and other stakeholders. This session offers an espresso shot of substantive and actionable recommendations designed to help you protect the relationships upon which your organization depends. There’ll be a Q&A/discussion session where participants can ask questions and offer comments. Register for the session here.
Ask the Experts – Board Members: How You Can and Should Step Up Now, Tuesday, May 5, Noon – 1:15 p.m. PT: Andy Robinson, Principal at Andy Robinson Consulting will cover nonprofit board responsiveness and board governance during a time of massive uncertainty. What can and should board members be doing to best support staff, how to use remote technology to deepen board engagement, tools for prioritizing and protecting core programs, and the board’s role in building partnerships to help nonprofits become stronger. This will be an interactive session where participants can ask questions and offer comments. Register for the session here.
Pivot or Perish: Redefining Disaster Law, Wednesday May 6, Noon – 1 p.m. PT: Latisha Nixon-Jones, Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Oregon will cover current federal and state disaster laws that are applied before, during and after disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic. She’ll focus on why understanding disaster laws is particularly important to protect vulnerable populations, historically marginalized communities and underserved communities for disaster mitigation, economic recovery and community resilience. The session will address current obstacles as well as some effective strategies for overcoming these obstacles. Leaders and staff of nonprofits who serve vulnerable populations and underserved communities, as well as culturally specific nonprofits are particularly encouraged to attend. There’ll be a Q&A session for participants to ask questions and offer comments. Register for the session here.
We’ve Been Here Before: Community-Based Nonprofits Confront Crises, Wednesday, May 13, Noon – 1:30 p.m. PT: Building Movement Project and Solidarity Is hosting its second webinar in their COVID-19 and Nonprofits series. The session will explore how people-of-color led, community-based organizations have dealt with crises in the past and how those learned experiences will help communities confront the effects of COVID-19. Register for the session here.
QuickBooks Desktop Edition Made Easy for Nonprofits, May 12, May 13 & May 14, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. PT: Gregg S. Bossen, CPA of QuickBooks Made Easy, is partnering with NAO to offer an updated three-part QuickBooks® training webinar for nonprofits. This webinar is for the Desktop edition of Quickbooks. Gregg will cover the basics of setting up and entering transactions specifically for nonprofits, an overview of the software updates included in the QuickBooks® 2018 Desktop Edition, as well as advanced topics covering a host of specific processes that will help you do more helpful and amazing things! Register for the three-part webinar here.
QuickBooks Online Edition Made Easy for Nonprofits, May 19, 20 & 21, 11 a.m. – 1 pm. PT: Gregg S. Bossen, CPA of QuickBooks Made Easy, is partnering with NAO to offer an updated three-part QuickBooks® training webinar for nonprofits. This webinar is for the Online edition of Quickbooks. Gregg will cover the basics of setting up and entering transactions specifically for nonprofits, an overview of the software updates included in the QuickBooks® 2018 Online Edition, as well as advanced topics covering a host of specific processes that will help you do more helpful and amazing things! Register for the three-part webinar here.
Nonstop Presents: Workplace Strategies to Support Mental Health, Thursday, May 28, 10 – 11 a.m. PT: Nonstop Administration and Insurances Services, an NAO partner, will be hosting Laura Green, SHRM-CP of Nonprofit HR, who will share how employers can best support their employees during these uncertain times. She’ll discuss tangible, simple solutions to help employees feel connected to the organization, as well as provide resources to assist with finding personal peace of mind. Register for the session on Nonstop’s site here.
Jim White
Executive Director
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