Even in the best of times, there are people in our communities who face desperate need. But in times of crisis like now, the desperation is deeper, and many who were able to survive just above homelessness, hunger or despair have now lost their narrow margin.
Fortunately, we have a historic network of selfless people in a broad array of not-for-profit organizations who have met these needs for generations. However, in the middle of the current global health and economic crisis, these organizations are at risk themselves.
Charities are not just being called upon to continue our services; we are being called upon to grow in the face of multiplying need. And we are in urgent need of business continuity relief just as much as America’s corporations and small businesses.
World Relief, for example, is ensuring that the most vulnerable groups are getting the health information they need, as well as housing and employment assistance, continuing refugee resettlement support and providing funding in areas anticipated to be the worst centers of impact. RESOLVE develops guidelines for allocating limited medical resources in crisis situations and is working with health and government officials around the country to provide standards of care during this outbreak.
Other nonprofits are providing childcare for health care workers, meals for children who rely on their school meals as their only meals of the day, safe shelter for domestic violence victims during quarantine, mental health services for those who have lost loved ones and more. The American Red Cross, for example, has had to cancel blood drives across the country but is more in need of blood than ever, and will need increased funds to meet the growing demand.
The problem is that our organizations rely mainly on contributions and financial support from individuals, corporations and government. In a time of economic strain, NGOs are highly at risk. Contributions from individuals and corporations will decrease. We have already canceled hundreds of fundraising events as the situation worsens, and many of us are on track to receive fewer donations than ever this year as a result. As 10 percent of the U.S. GDP, we employ 12 million workers. But not only are the services we offer at risk of being suspended due to lack of funds, but the livelihoods of the people we employ are in danger also.
This is why we have joined with nearly 150 of the largest nonprofit organizations in the United States to request a $60 billion cash infusion to the nonprofit sector to maintain our operations, expand our scope of work to address the increasing economic and health demands, and stabilize losses.
Following many disasters in the past, Congress has seemed to overlook the fact that NGOs are employers just as for-profit businesses are employers. We applaud the inclusion in H.R.6201 of a payroll tax credit to all employers of a certain size (including nonprofits) that provide their employees sick leave because of COVID-19. But smaller nonprofits are struggling just as much, if not more, and we urge Congress to provide these tax credits to all charities regardless of size.
We are also asking Congress to approve nonprofit payroll tax credit relief, and to provide a universal charitable deduction for contributions through the end of 2021. We need lawmakers to take immediate action to ensure that we are not forced to shut down our operations.
The inescapable reality is that America’s charitable nonprofits need financial support over the coming weeks and months to meet the demands of the country’s most vulnerable populations. We urge all Americans, Congress and the administration to remember this as we face this unprecedented national and global challenge.
Scott Arbeiter is president of World Relief. Stephen D’Esposito is president and CEO of RESOLVE.
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