How the CARES Act Impacts Nonprofit Organizations

Humanity depends on philanthropy.

Above all else, this belief drives us at Graham-Pelton. And it all comes down to altruism, a concern for others, and a desire to help where and when we can.

At a time like this, when we live with so much uncertainty and under a new normal of isolation, it is not a stretch to guess that we are more aware today of our roles as members of society – our connectedness to something bigger than ourselves – than we have been in quite some time. Often it is only when something is taken away that we realize how much we depend on it.

The $2 trillion economic stimulus package passed by Congress and signed into law by the President this week presents an opportunity to embrace our connectedness at this trying time by ensuring that taxpayers can give to help others and that the nonprofits serving our communities can survive, even as many face economic hardship due to lost revenue.

For taxpayers, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – the CARES Act, as it is informally known – includes two legislative provisions designed to encourage charitable giving in 2020. The first allows for the deduction of up to $300 in giving per individual this year, whether that individual itemizes their taxes or not. The second lightens the load on those who itemize in 2020 by lifting the cap entirely for deductions relative to adjusted gross income.

The CARES Act also includes provisions that reach nonprofits and their employees directly.  It makes Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans accessible to nonprofits through the second quarter of 2020, providing expedited eligibility determinations, fee and credit requirement waivers, interest rate caps, and increased government loan guarantees. It also expands eligibility for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants to include nonprofits, loosening eligibility requirements and providing expedited advance funding of loans due to COVID-19. Finally, the CARES Act provides funding to states for emergency reimbursement of unemployment expenses incurred in 2020 for nonprofits forced to lay off employees.

What does it all mean for philanthropy?

For taxpayers, the CARES Act encourages and incentivizes giving to ensure a strong philanthropic response on the part of all Americans during this unprecedented time. For nonprofits, it seeks to mitigate losses and shore up organizations, helping both nonprofit employees and the communities they serve by making financial support accessible and the process for receiving it faster and easier than before.

The net result? Opportunity. Opportunity for each of us to make a difference in others’ lives.

If there is one silver lining to come out of the COVID-19 crisis, perhaps it’s this: recognition of our connectedness and concern for others may finally make a comeback.  It has always been there, even when its level voice has been eclipsed by the noise of vitriol to which we have all become so accustomed in our daily lives.

We are being called to respond. It’s time to listen.

Gina Vaughn is Senior Consultant at Graham-Pelton and can be reached at 1-800-608-7955 or

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