Advocacy Update: Legislation to Support Nonprofits in Difficult Times


By Nora OBrien-Suric, PhD

The world is facing a number of unprecedented challenges in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Many nonprofit and community-based organizations, in our region and across the country, are struggling with financial and workforce capacity issues as they continue meeting the needs of the people they serve. This situation illustrates how vital these organizations are to the health of our community, and how important it is to ensure they are fully funded and supported, whether during a crisis or in “normal” times.

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, the response across all sectors will continue as well. At the Health Foundation, we remain committed to engaging with this response in every way we can, including advocating for legislation to help strengthen the organizations that are dedicated to improving the health of people in our region.

Below, we highlight some recent pieces of legislation that could be key to ensuring nonprofits and community-based organizations are able to meet the needs of the people they serve—not just during these extraordinary times, but for the foreseeable future.

Celebrating the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act
On March 25, President Trump signed into law HR4334, the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020.

The law reauthorizes critical Older Americans Act (OAA) programs through 2024. First passed in 1965, the OAA supports and funds a variety of services that enable millions of older Americans to live independent, healthier lives at home. Services supported by the OAA include congregate and home-delivered meals, case management, transportation services, employment and volunteer programs, adult day care, centers and activities for older adults, legal support, health promotion, and disease prevention. The OAA also helps fund programs and support services for family caregivers.

Many community-based organizations that serve older adults and caregivers are facing significant strain in responding to COVID-19, so funding provided through the OAA is more important than ever during these uncertain times. We applaud our lawmakers for this bipartisan support of the OAA reauthorization. Learn more about the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

How the CARES Act may help nonprofits
On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act was signed into law. This expansive piece of legislation aims to provide significant support to a number of sectors including businesses, hospitals, schools and social support programs.

Some nonprofits may be eligible to receive financial assistance as part of the new law, including:

  • Small business loans or economic injury disaster loans
  • Reimbursements for some costs of providing unemployment benefits to laid-off staff
  • Payroll tax credits

Other provisions in the bill that may help nonprofits include a charitable giving incentive; amendments to paid leave costs; and a large infusion of funds to sectors including hospitals and education.

This is complex legislation and we encourage nonprofits to explore thoroughly whether they would benefit from these funding opportunities.

Here are some additional helpful resources to learn more about the CARES Act’s impact on nonprofits:

During these crucial times, we will continue to advocate for legislative and regulatory efforts that can improve the health of our community. This is just one way we pursue our mission to improve the health and health care of people in western and central New York.