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Information on COVID-19 for Maine Nonprofits

Financial Relief for Nonprofit Businesses and Employers

MANP is regularly updating this page to provide information as it becomes available on financial relief and support for nonprofit organizations during the pandemic.

Relief/Resources for Your Organization

Federal Relief

  • On March 18, the the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,a bill that expands social support programs, mandates that employers provide paid leave for many affected workers, and protects nonprofits (see summary – Senate made no changes).
  • On March 27th, the CARES ACT (H.R. 748) passed and has been signed by the President. It contains several provisions that are relevant to nonprofit organizations and the communities they serve, including:
    • 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!),
    • an “above-the-line” charitable giving deduction for gifts made in 2020,
    • relief for direct-reimbursing nonprofits that self-fund their unemployment costs, and
    • payroll tax credits.
    • Independent Sector has a great run-down.
    • As we understand more about this 900-page legislation, we will continue to share information.
  • 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.

Loans

  • The CARES Act includes new loan options through the Small Business Administration and we will be updating this page with more information soon. In the meantime, check out Independent Sector’s overview.
  • The Small Business Administration is extending disaster relief loans to small businesses, including nonprofits, to help alleviate economic injury caused by COVID-19. Working with state officials, SBA will be offering loans of up to $2 million through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. As SBA explains, “These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.” Learn more about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
  • Announced on March 19, The 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.
  • Contact your financial institution to inquire about the possibility of receiving a loan, restructuring current loans, delaying payments, receiving information on loans for employees, and other available support.

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.

  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation launched the COVID-19 Assistance Fund, two expedited grant programs providing up to $10,000 in funding to nonprofit community-based organizations serving residents and  nonprofits serving older adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Maine Humanities Council’s mini grants of up to $1000 support projects that use the humanities to connect people across physical distance. Learn more + apply here (next deadline is April 10, 2020).
  • Nellie Mae Education Foundation launched a rapid response fund to respond to the hate crimes and bias against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities resulting from COVID-19. Community-based organizations providing services for AAPI communities can learn more + apply here.
  • New England Grassroots Environmental Fund’s rapid response Seed grant program will provide up to $1,000 to grassroots groups responding to local needs and building resilience in their community in response to the COVID19 pandemic and associated events. Organizations with budget <$100k & no more than 2 full-time staff equivalents can learn more + apply here.
  • The United Ways of Maine have launched locally based responses to the COVID-19 pandemic based on the needs of their local community. Learn more + apply to your local United Way here.
  • Virginia Hodgkins Somers Foundation has announced Coronavirus Emergency Funding to help bridge the gap between work and unemployment, especially for those lower earning folks who may not have adequate savings for basic needs. Nonprofits based in or serving clients in York County can apply here for funding to support employees.
  • 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.

Relief/Resources for Your Employees

Unemployment: Government has expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19 and they may visit www.maine.gov/unemployment and file a claim.

  • 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 and we will update this page as we have information.
  • 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 eligible for unemployment insurance under normal circumstances, but the CARES Act expands access for those typically not covered. We will update this section with more information soon.
  • The Maine Department of Labor is continually updating its website to reflect the most recent UI eligibility requirements.

Health Insurance

  • 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.
  • 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.