Dear Elected Officials of Washington State,
We in the nonprofit community are grateful for your leadership and are proud to work side-by-side with you to support our communities during this difficult time. We share your commitment to ensure the wellbeing of Washington’s residents.
At the same time, we are concerned that no measures have been taken to address the strength of nonprofit organizations in responding to this crisis. Many of the current or proposed responses do not provide the necessary support needed by nonprofits to continue their efforts in mitigating the downstream impacts of social and economic turmoil. The COVID-19 pandemic makes our work more essential than ever. Specific recommendations for actions that will support nonprofits include:
- Establish an emergency grant program for nonprofits significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The federal disaster loan program is not a practical solution for many nonprofits as they do not have the means to repay loans without putting vital services in jeopardy over the long-term.
- Be flexible regarding how current government funding is used by nonprofits. Many of us are having to adapt how we deliver services during this time period and will experience interruptions in service in some cases. We depend on this revenue to pay our staff and keep our organizations running so that we can ultimately support our communities.
- Add a seat for nonprofits on the COVID-19 Economic Impact Task Force so that the perspective of nonprofit organizations can be included as solutions and responses are crafted by the task force.
- Include nonprofits who self-insure or utilize an employer trust for unemployment benefits in the new emergency unemployment benefits program.
- Address rural and low-income community access to technology and broadband. Provide funds for technology and training so nonprofits can move to remote work and virtual service models when possible.
Nonprofits play a vital role in building economic, emotional, physical, developmental, and social well-being for all community members. Washington state is home to approximately 30,000 federally-recognized nonprofits, which employ 269,361 people in this state, all working for our collective benefit. For example:
- Human service providers restore well-being when it is disrupted by the unpredictable life storms that can affect us all, like a physical or mental health challenge, caring for an ailing loved one, losing a job, or experiencing the trauma of interpersonal or community violence.
- Human rights advocacy organizations enforce and expand the rights of people who suffer injustice because of poverty or discrimination. They fight for dignity, freedom, justice, equality, and peace for all communities, involving those who have been historically underrepresented.
- Community development organizations revitalize low-income, underserved neighborhoods that have experienced significant disinvestment. Their work supports development of affordable housing, improves community health through economic development, and plays a critical role in building community wealth.
- Environmental conservation groups seek to protect the environment against misuse or degradation from human forces. They preserve plants, animals, and natural communities by protecting the lands, waters, and air they need to survive – thereby improving the environment for all of us.
- Arts and cultural organizations help build healthy, vibrant, equitable communities. They bring joy, inspiration, and vitality to all Washingtonians and provide a direct economic benefit through revenue and tourism.
Every sector of the nonprofit community is facing unprecedented demands as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, and it is challenging our ability to support the people and communities that rely on us. Current relief efforts miss the mark in supporting this essential portion of the Washington state workforce. Examples of these challenges include:
- Nonprofits, particularly service providers, are being called on to adapt quickly to new operating requirements, educate community members, and support vulnerable community members without any new resources.
- Many nonprofit service providers, such as food banks and behavioral health providers, are facing increased demand for services.
- Nonprofits tend to be under-resourced and under-staffed in the best of times. A drop-off in staff and volunteers due to illness, vulnerability to illness, and families in need of child care are posing threats to program continuity.
- Many nonprofits are already suffering significant financial losses due to cancelled fundraising events, performances, conferences and other revenue streams. Like small businesses, nonprofits require help to recover economically.
To support the wellbeing of our state’s nonprofit infrastructure, we recommend that you include nonprofits in all relief and recovery funding that is available in our state. We request a virtual meeting with you this week to share more information about the critical role nonprofits are playing in the COVID-19 response across the state and discuss opportunities to provide needed support for this vital work and include nonprofits in creating the solutions. Please contact Laura Pierce at Washington Nonprofits, [email protected], 206-412-8362, to schedule a meeting.
We look forward to partnering with you on continuing Washington state’s leadership in addressing this ongoing crisis.
Housing Development Consortium of King County
King County Sexual Assault Resource Center
Northwest Association for Biomedical Research
Partners for Our Children
PCAF (Pierce County AIDS Foundation)
Pioneer Human Services
Seattle Human Services Coalition
United Ways of the Pacific Northwest
Washington State Community Action Partnership
Women and Children’s Free Restaurant
Yakima Valley Community Foundation
Youth Development Executives of King County
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