Updated May 27, 2020
May 27 – Frequently Asked Questions & PPP Loan Forgiveness Update
How can a board of directors of a Washington nonprofit corporation hold a legal meeting remotely?
A meeting of the board of directors that is held in person is a legal meeting under Washington law. However, during the COVID pandemic, boards must meet by other means. Here is how the law works. RCW 24.03.120 provides that unless there are restrictions in the corporation’s articles of incorporation or bylaws, the board may meet by means of a conference telephone or similar communications equipment by means of which all persons participating in the meeting can hear each other at the same time. Therefore, virtual meetings held by Zoom, GoToMeeting, or other web-based programs that allow all board members participating to hear each other at the same time would be permitted. And, it is legally permitted even if the corporation’s bylaws do not specifically permit meeting by conference call or other electronic communications.
A meeting held by email is legal only if the resolution or motion of the board is sent to all members of the board and all the members of the board respond by email approving the resolution or motion. Under this rule, all members of the board must vote and all must vote “yes,” for the written meeting to be legal.
Always check your own bylaws to be sure you are complying with any additional rules you have established for your organization.
Thanks to Judy Andrews at Apex Law Group for helping us answer this FAQ.
What should we do about fraudulent unemployment claims?
Washington State Employment Security Department has experienced a wave of fraudulent unemployment claims. What your organization’s mail for notices and be alert to fraudulent unemployment claims being filed using your name or the names of your staff members. This is a big problem for both nonprofits and businesses right now. If you receive a notice of a claim in the name of a current employee, notify the Employment Security Department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so that your organization does not get charged for a false claim.
Even though the ESD has safeguards in place to ensure benefits don’t go to the wrong people, it is important to report fraudulent claims immediately. ESD’s fraud website outlines the reporting process.
Thanks to 501 Commons for sharing this information!
What should we do if our nonprofit is behind in paying rent because of the COVID-19 shutdown?
Communities Rise has released a new Lease Amendment Toolkit designed to give small businesses and nonprofits information and template documents so they can successfully negotiate payment plans with their landlords before the moratoriums are lifted.
Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Updates
Visit our this blog post for updated information about PPP loan forgiveness.
We are expecting Congressional action soon to relax some of the rules around PPP loans, and we will post an update here when we learn more.
News for the week of May 11
Greetings, friends. Here is the latest news related to nonprofits and coronavirus:
- On May 13 we got a bit of good news for PPP borrowers. SBA issued new guidance (FAQ #46) creating the following safe harbor: “Any borrower that, together with its affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.” Most nonprofits borrowed much less, and can relax regarding scrutiny of their self-assessment that they need these funds.
- Still, nonprofits must follow all the rules to ensure their loans are forgiven. Find out how in a free webinar on PPP loan forgiveness presented by Washington Nonprofits, Communities Rise and Beneficial State Bank on May 21.
- The Washington State Nonprofit Conference on May 19 &20 will feature many sessions that address our current crisis and how nonprofits can navigate through it.
- Ostara Group is offering free webinar conversations every Friday at 10am on topics of interest to nonprofits, particularly related to fundraising. Visit their website and sign up for their newsletter to receive updates.
News for the week of May 4
Phew! We are in a time of rapid change and it’s tough to keep up. Here’s a summary of what’s new and key links for you to follow to learn more. Continue down for more resources that have been posted longer but are still relevant.
- Federal Stimulus funding for Nonprofits: For the past week, we have been focused on pushing out information to nonprofits about the second round of Paycheck Protection Plan loans that became available on Monday, April 29. As of May 3, there is still PPP loan funding available. You can find resources here about CARES Act federal assistance, including PPP and EIDL loans.
- Advocacy: We’ve also been busy advocating for additional government assistance to nonprofits. We invite you to learn more here and join our sign-on campaign to include nonprofits in COVID-19 relief and recovery funding.
- Financial Health: Many nonprofits are wrestling with tough decisions about their survival or starting to think and plan for the future. We’ve posted financial planning resources to help.
- Learning and Connection: The Washington State Nonprofit Conference will happen virtually on May 19 & 20. Much of the content is designed to help you navigate this time. Our events calendar also lists many other learning opportunities coming up.
Prior updates & Additional Resources
Let’s get through this crisis together!
We are learning fast about how to survive and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonprofits that typically operate on thin margins are facing unprecedented challenges. Washington Nonprofits is committed to supporting nonprofits through this crisis with timely information and advocacy.
What Is Washington Nonprofits doing?
Learning and Crowdsourcing Ideas
Our first move was to help nonprofits cope by providing information and opportunities to share ideas and strategies.
- We have quickly organized a series of webinars and curated resources on topics that were requested by our members. We offered these for free and had nationwide participation by 400-600 people per webinar. Recordings are available here.
- We have convened census organizers to share information about how they are adapting their outreach strategies given the importance of avoiding gathering and social distancing. Recording and resources here.
- We are convened volunteer managers in Washington to talk about how to adapt volunteer recruitment and management strategies during COVID-19.
- We have more virtual ED Coffee Hours coming up on May 11 and June 1.
- We are maintaining our calendar of online learning opportunities.
- The Washington State Nonprofit Conference on May 19 & 20 is now a two-day virtual event. Our presenters will adapt their presentations in light of COVID-19, and we’ll have the latest updates for you.
Advocating with Elected Officials
Now is the time for advocacy. As government leaders at all levels have crafted the first COVID-19 relief and recovery programs, the focus has been on public health, small businesses, and employees lacking sick leave and suffering economic losses. These are all valid priorities. We’ve started to speak up and our advocacy showed in the CARES Act, which includes loan and grant programs that nonprofits can access. We need to continue working hard to ensure that policymakers are aware that nonprofits are suffering economic losses as well as increased costs to provide responsive services.
- We have convened a COVID-19 Nonprofit Advocacy Workgroup to ensure that nonprofits are visible and included in recovery planning. Email Laura Pierce for additional information: email@example.com
- We are communicating with Washington State leaders and our US Congressional delegation.
- We are collaborating with nonprofits across the country through the National Council of Nonprofits to advocate at the federal level.
Here’s a great video from the National Council of Nonprofits: “How We Can Help Each Other and Our Communities During the Coronavirus”
Dialoguing with Funders
Washington Nonprofits issued an Open Letter to Funders and has been speaking with foundation leaders to provide nonprofit input as they determine how to respond. Feel free to share with your networks and tag @WaNonprofits.
Thank you to our partner Philanthropy Northwest for tracking and keeping an updated list of special coronavirus response funds throughout the region.
What Nonprofit Leaders can do
Advocacy: We will be sharing opportunities to advocate and educate policymakers and funders. Please make sure you are subscribed to our lists, particularly our public policy advocacy list.
Storytelling: To advocate effectively, we need to know what is happening for you, your organization, and your community. Please keep in touch and share your stories with us.
Tips for Leaders
- Don’t panic. Breathe!
- Keep your staff team connected even as you work remotely. Communicate more, not less.
- Demonstrate care and concern for your staff, board members and volunteers.
- Follow all recommendations from public health officials.
- Speak out to counter discrimination.
Check out our webinars and related resources to better understand how to plan for program continuity, make key decisions, shift your fundraising strategy, and work effectively from home.
Are you still operating and using volunteers? Check out this sample liability waiver provided by our partners at NPIP.
COVID-19 & Nonprofits Webinars & Related Resources
We have posted recordings and resources related to a series of webinars related to COVID-19 and nonprofits, including:
- Event Planning & COVID-19
- What should nonprofits be thinking about
- Alternatives to Meeting in Person
- Adapting Our Fundraising Strategy
We also have posted information on updating your census outreach strategy for COVID-19. We hope these resources will help your organization adapt and stay strong through the crisis.
More resources on our blog:
- Navigating CARES Act Assistance Programs
- Sample Forms for Volunteers and Clients during COVID-19
- COVID-19 and Your Nonprofit Finances
Resources from our partners
- Legal Alert: Recommended Practices for Employers in Response to Coronavirus from Communities Rise
- Prepare. Respond. Serve. from 501 Commons & Tech Impact
- Cabin Fever Questions and “Strange Pages: 15 Books for Uncertain Times” from Humanities Washington
- Washington State Coronavirus Response maintained by the state Joint Information Center
We will periodically update our resources here based on new information. Remember your role as a leader in the midst of uncertainty: show your team that you care and strategize together about how to stay safe and meet your mission.
To ensure that you get timely updates and to support us to provide information on emergent issues, please join Washington Nonprofits if are you not already a member.