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Struggling nonprofits could seek relief from CARES Act

As businesses adjust to the world of social distancing, many area nonprofits have also had to make difficult decisions.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With their revenue falling and the demand for their services going up, nonprofits are fighting to survive in a world changed by the coronavirus.

"It's really about the survival of the type of community you and I live and work in," Gregory Nielsen, the CEO of Nielsen Training and Consulting, said. "It's about the survival of compassion, the survival of the values that we hold dear as a community."

Just as businesses are struggling to adjust to a world of social distancing and orders for people to stay at home, many nonprofits like Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana have also had to make difficult decisions. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana CEO Hal Hedley said his organization has temporarily suspended its volunteer program and is making non-essential staff work from home. Other charities have already had to cancel or postpone scheduled fundraisers while others are seeking other avenues of raising money while maintaining social distance.

"We're seeing our revenue sources drop pretty dramatically and that's really all of our revenue sources," Hedley said.

But help could be on its way. Nielsen works with many local nonprofits and he has been urging them to pay attention to legislation coming down from the federal level, specifically the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act, or the CARES Act, which was signed into law Friday.

"That makes small business loans available to nonprofit organizations to cover payroll and other operational costs," he said. "And provided they use those funds over a two-month period for payroll and operational costs, those loans can be transferred into grants."

This is just one several parts to the CARES Act, which also includes $10 billion for the federal Small Business Administration to provide emergency grants until the end of the calendar year and a provision allowing nonprofits to be reimbursed for half the costs incurred through the year to pay unemployment benefits.

"We're actually now just looking into the details for what that means for us at Ronald McDonald House and I know my nonprofit counterparts all over the community are doing the same thing too," Hedley said.

"That's why some of the stimulus package, the CARES Act in particular, can be vital for nonprofits, can be the difference between survival and having to shut the doors," Nielsen said.

There are also local programs that also seek to help nonprofits weather the storm, including One Louisville, which Nielsen and Hedley both touted as a useful resource.

The CARES Act also raises the limitations on charitable giving, lifting the cap for people itemizing from 60 percent of their adjusted gross income to 100 percent. Corporations will see their limitation increase from 10 percent to 25 percent of taxable income.

"Now is a great time to support nonprofits through donations if you're financially capable," Nielsen said.

►Contact reporter Dennis Ting at dting@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@DennisJTing) and Facebook. 

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