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Information for Maine Nonprofits During COVID-19

Financial Relief for Nonprofit Businesses and Employers

In addition to our broader webpage about COVID-19 (which includes training and tools for adapting technology and programs, scenario planning, fundraising/communications and more), MANP is regularly updating this page to provide information as it becomes available on financial relief and support for nonprofit organizations during the pandemic.

Our members’ continued support ensures we are able to provide free resources to Maine’s nonprofit sector at this critical time. If you are able, please consider becoming a MANP member. If you are already a member – THANK YOU!  We are all stronger when the sector is stronger.

Relief/Resources for Your Organization

Overview of Federal Stimulus Packages

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Passed March 18, effective April 1)
    • Expands social support programs, mandates that employers provide paid leave for many affected workers, and protects nonprofits (see summary – Senate made no changes).
    • The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the Act. Please visit their website for more information: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic, including answers to a wide range of anticipated questions from both employees and employers.
    • The US Wage and Hour Department has launched an online tool to help employees and employers determine who is qualified for the FFCRA protections and benefits.
    • Brann & Isaacson have compiled this legal resource library
  • CARES Act (H.R. 748) (Passed March 27).
    • expanded access to unemployment (more information about unemployment in the “Relief for Nonprofit Employees” section below)
    • more emergency loan options (and without limitations on those receiving Medicaid funding!) – see our webpage on the loan options
    • an “above-the-line” charitable giving deduction for gifts made in 2020,
    • relief for direct-reimbursing nonprofits that self-fund their unemployment costs – more below in the unemployment section
    • payroll tax credits – more below
    • Read the National Council of Nonprofits summary
  • Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act, informally called “CARES Act 1.5” (Passed April 24). Provides interim funding for the popular programs to the initial CARES Act. The new relief adds $310 Billion to the PPP fund (including $60 Billion earmarked for rural lenders and immigrant-led organizations), $50 to the EIDL program in loans and $10 Billion in EIDL grants. See our webpage on the loan options
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010) (Signed June 5)
    • Extends the PPP through December 31;
    • Extends the deadline for borrowers seeking loan forgiveness to rehire employees until December 31, 2020;
    • Expands the covered period for loan use from eight weeks to 24 weeks; and
    • Replaces the SBA’s rule that at least 75% of the forgivable funds from PPP loans must go to payroll expenses with one that allows up to 40% of funds to be used for non-payroll expenses.
  • On July 27, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, backed by Senate Republicans as their proposed follow-up relief legislation to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was enacted on March 27th. Learn more on our blog.
  • If new legislation is passed we will add it here. For information about legislation being debated, watch our blog and newsletter.

Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program

On August 20th, Governor Mills announced the release of the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program. The program, backed by $200 million in Federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds, will “provide grants for businesses and non-profit organizations that demonstrate a need for financial relief based on lost revenues or expenses related to the disruption of business operations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”  Phase One awards were made in early October and Phase Two awards will be made in mid-December.

Federal Grants Flexibility

  • The federal Office of Management and Budget 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. While there is no guarantee that all federal agencies will authorize such flexibility, the Memo is grounds for nonprofits to seek continued payments for salaries and facilities and administrative costs even if they are not currently operational.

Loans

  • The CARES Act gives eligible nonprofits choices for securing cash needed to maintain staff and operations. Loan options include the Paycheck Protection Program, the Emergency Injury Disaster (EID) loan and grant programs, and loans for mid-sized (500+ employees) organizations. Visit this webpage to compare the loan options, learn how to apply, and get the latest on availability of funds.
  • Announced on March 19, Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) is partnering with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and local Maine lenders to offer special, limited-time loans and loan insurance to eligible Maine businesses affected by COVID-19. For details on these new programs, please see their COVID-19 Relief Loan Programs page.
  • Three community development organizations have SBA-backed loans available for business borrowers. Visit these websites to access these loan applications and to learn more: Coastal Enterprises, Inc (CEI), Community Concepts, Inc. and MaineStream Finance. 
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston‘s Main Street Lending Program is accepting submissions of eligible loans to nonprofit organizations, submitted by registered lenders. Learn more.
  • Contact your financial institution to inquire about the possibility of restructuring current loans, delaying payments, receiving information on loans for employees, and other available support.

Tax Credits

Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Funding Available for Nonprofits

MEMA is administering the Public Assistance Program in response to and recovery from COVID-19 (DR-4522) – The program provides funding for emergency assistance to save lives and protect property, and assists with funding for permanently restoring community infrastructure affected by a federally declared incident. Learn more about eligibility for this program and recorded information session.

Grants/Relief Funds

Giving Compass compiled a list of vetted funds that are addressing immediate and long-term needs stemming from the Covid-19 crisis.

MANP is actively communicating with philanthropic partners to identify how they may be offering support to the nonprofit community and will continue to update the following list.

  • Greater Portland Council of Government‘s Rapid Response Micro-loan Program provides qualifying organizations with up to $10,000 at 0% interest for the first two years. Portions of the loan may be forgiven if businesses meet certain requirements or participate in other GPCOG initiatives.  Learn more + apply.
  • Maine Humanities Council mini grants of up to $1000 support projects that use the humanities to connect people across physical distance. Learn more + apply .
  • The Portland Development Corporation‘s rapid response micro loan program assists Portland nonprofits needing help due to COVID-19. The Winter Business Sustainability Grant Program provides up to $10,000 grants for Portland area business who need equipment to need financial assistance to operate a component of their business outdoors through the fall and winter. Learn more + apply.
  • United Midcoast Charities’ Rapid Response Fund provides funding to food, housing, health and safety, and economic security organizations in Knox and Waldo counties.
  • Some foundations are offering relief funds specific to their current grantees. Check in with your funders to see if there are additional opportunities available to you.
  • The Maine Philanthropy Center also lists funding opportunities for Maine nonprofits.
  • Interested in starting a relief fund? This article offers advice and answers common questions.
  • The budget passed by Maine legislators March 17th includes $15 million for rate increases to support direct health care providers who are caring for Maine seniors, people with disabilities, and children with behavioral health needs.
  • Maine legislators have authorized Governor Mills to adjust state, county and municipal government deadlines and to permit all public entities to meet by remote participation.
  • The Maine Department of Economic & Community Development (MDECD) is encouraging all employers to sign up for the state information data exchange system.
  • Visit Maine Career Center and find your nearest center. Give them a call and they will help walk you through the programs and assistance available to you and your employees. They also have a chat function on their website. The offices are closed but the services are still available over the phone and online.
  • Email business.answers@maine.gov with additional questions.

How You Can Help Maine Nonprofits

Relief/Resources for Your Employees

Unemployment: The Government has expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits for some workers impacted by COVID-19 and they may visit www.maine.gov/unemployment and to file a claim. It is important to note that unemployment benefits are taxable as income. This IRS flyer has more information.

Please read further for more guidance.

  • Businesses, including nonprofits, that are temporarily closing their doors, drastically reducing services, and/or sending employees home (who are not working from home), should be clear with their employees that this is a “temporary layoff.”
  • The work search requirement for individuals still connected to their employer but temporarily laid off is waived for this period.
  • The 1 week waiting period for UI benefit has been waived, but there is still a process that usually takes roughly 10 days.
  • Claims related to COVID-19 will not affect the employer’s experience rating record if the employer has been paying into the state’s Unemployment Insurance Program.
  • 501c3 organizations are uniquely able to opt out of the state’s UI program and instead be “direct reimbursers” of claims. The employees of direct reimbursers are still able to make a claim, but direct reimbursing organizations remain liable for reimbursing the state for that claim, though the CARES Act offers at least some relief by paying for 50% of unemployment claims.
    • Note: In early August the President Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act, which overrides the Labor Department requirement that self-insured nonprofits must pay 100% of benefits costs upfront and get reimbursed by their states later. This bill is just a partial fix, and MANP will continue to advocate for 100% relief for COVID-19 related unemployment claims for self-insuring nonprofits.
  • Some very small organizations–for-profit and nonprofit–are exempt from paying into the Unemployment Insurance system. Some choose to anyway. If they have not, however, their employees are not normally eligible for unemployment insurance. The CARES Act expands access for all those typically not covered.
    • As of Friday, May 1st, these previously ineligible employees, as well as independent contractors, may begin applying for unemployment coverage. Please read our blog post for more details. Also, Rep. Genevieve McDonald (D-Deer Isle) has created additional guidance to help individuals navigate the process.
    • Benefits are retroactive to when individuals lost employment opportunities, or as early as March 15. The benefits will include an additional $600 per week on top of regular benefits, which comes from another federally funded program.
  • The Maine Department of Labor is continually updating its website to reflect the most recent UI eligibility requirements.
  • Note: In an effort to better manage the sudden influx, the department is boosting unemployment office staff by 100 people and changing its intake procedure. Starting April 6, an alphabetical call-in system based on the first letter of an applicant’s last name will be used. Monday is reserved for Mainers with last names from “A” through “H,” Tuesday for “I” through “Q” and Wednesday for “R” through “Z.” Thursday and Friday will remain unassigned for those who miss or can’t call on their alphabetical day, the department said. Claims can be accepted online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the Department of Labor.

Health Insurance

  • The Maine Bureau of Insurance has issued an order saying that if an employer lays off or furloughs a worker and wants to continue offering employer-sponsored group health insurance coverage to the worker, the company’s health insurance provider can’t deny coverage. Read the Portland Press Herald coverage.
  • Employees who lose health insurance in a layoff, or who didn’t have it to begin with, may be eligible for MaineCare.
  • Also note that on March 19th, Governor Janet Mills signed The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act which “makes some of the most common medical visits free or less costly, simplifies shopping for a plan, leverages federal funds to help make premiums more affordable for small businesses, and puts Maine in the driver’s seat to ensure that all Maine people have clear choices for their coverage.” Click here to learn more

Additional support:

  • Utilities: State regulators have issued an order directing all utilities that provide electricity, natural gas and water to refrain from any disconnecting customers until further notice. This applies to both residential and commercial customers who may suffer financial hardships during the virus outbreak.
  • Food: Many districts have started food-distributions programs for students to get meals they normally would have received at school. Check your school’s website to see if they have launched a program, and where you can go to pick up meals.
  • Internet: Charter Communications, which does business as Spectrum, said it will offer free broadband and Wi-Fi access to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription, at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
  • Loans: Low- or no-interest loans for eligible people in Maine.
  • Taxpayers seeking assistance can call Maine Revenue Services from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All revenue services telephone and email contact information is available at: www.maine.gov/revenue/contact.html. This includes the Taxpayer Service Center at 207-624-9784 and the Property Tax Division at 207-624-5600.
  • Student Loans: Under the CARES Act, borrowers of federal student loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education will automatically be placed into forbearance with 0% interest rates through Sep. 30, 2020, for federal student debt under a recently updated announcement, Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents, by the Education Department. However, borrowers must continue to be employed full time at qualifying employers, including 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits and governments, during the forbearance period for the non-payments to count towards the requisite 120 qualifying payments for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Borrowers may elect to continue to make payments or receive a refund if a payment was made after the CARES Act was enacted. The announcement warns, “Please note that some FFEL Program loans are owned by commercial lenders, and some Perkins Loans are owned by the institution you attended. These loans are not eligible for this benefit at this time.” Read more in NonprofitQuarterly.
  • The Greater Portland Council of Governments has launched an interactive update page focused on the coronavirus. The page aims to provide updates on the status of local and county government facilities, programs, policies, and other protective steps taken for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • For individuals/employees: COVID-19 Relief Consumer Loan Program provides no-to low-interest consumer loans through a loan guarantee program involving Maine’s banks, credit unions, and FAME. Interested borrowers should contact their local bank or credit union to see if the lender is offering this program and to apply.

Advocating for further support

National Council of Nonprofits sent a letter to Congress urging that nonprofits be considered as part of any relief package and urges you to write your congresspersons and tell them how this crisis is affecting your organization, your employees and the people you serve. Writing your senators and representatives is easy; just click those links and find your officeholders. The message is easy: “I want you to understand what this pandemic is doing to the ability of my nonprofit to serve your constituents.” Tell your story. Close with something like, “I urge you to include the policy solutions proposed by the nonprofit community in any COVID-19 relief and stimulus legislation.”

You can also share your stories and questions with MANP to help us identify and develop resources and continue to be your advocate with our state and federal officials and our colleagues in philanthropy.