Sending Help Fast: Setting Up & Managing Emergency Grants in Times of Crisis

There’re no definitive guidelines for how to act in a crisis, but there are a few actionable strategies that can help you thoughtfully and efficiently set up and manage emergency grants.

Grantmaking is close to an art. Honing the process of setting up a grant, collecting applications, selecting the right fits, and then reporting on your results is something that takes years of experience, lots of thought, and an ongoing, laser dedication to your mission.

Truly great grantmaking requires enormous amounts of consideration, labor, tweaking, and analysis—but what happens when you need to issue an emergency grant and don’t have time for any of that?

The recent Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that philanthropy can’t always wait—even for a few weeks—and that while the grantmaking process is often long and thorough for a reason, sometimes we have to expedite the process in order to do what grants do best: help connect resources to the people who need them most.

At Submittable, we have the unique opportunity to watch thousands of grantmakers go about their business each day. In the past month, we’ve also watched as dozens of foundations and organizations have stepped up bravely, quickly, and with resolve to mainline assistance to the groups who can use it most during the COVID crisis. Their solutions for setting up emergency grants have been creative, nimble, unhesitating, and, above all, compassionate.

Emergency grants are vital in the wake of calamity, whether the world has been shaken by a public health concern, a natural disaster, an economic recession, or a pressing social issue. Here’s what we’ve learned from our clients about how to set up and manage emergency grants with maximum efficiency, for maximum impact.

 

Ten emerging strategies for managing an emergency grant

Emergencies require that we leave our comfort zones. For grantmakers, this means that the rules change, even when it comes to the most tried and true methods, procedures, and technologies that you’re relied and sworn upon in past years. As an example, PEAK Grantmaking reports that just in the wake of the COVID crisis, 97 percent of organizations are considering changes to their grantmaking processes, while 63 percent are considering changing their grant priorities—who and what they fund.

Emergency grantmaking requires sacrificing “perfect” for “done” and valuing efficiency and speed over almost all else. It also requires more trust: trust that your applicants need your funds and that they will use them with the urgency and weight that inspired your grant.

Grantmaking best practices and emergency grantmaking best practices are different. Here are the strategies that we’ve seen working.

1. Be ready for remote work

One of the biggest challenges of the COVID-19 crisis is that social distancing is required for everyone to stay healthy and safe, which means in-person collaboration is all but taken off the table. And it’s important to add that many emergency situations, from national disasters to economic crashes, may also necessitate an increase in remote work. For these reasons, being able to work remotely and virtually are vital to your emergency grant planning.

How can you make the shift?

Utilize video conferencing solutions, like ZoomMicrosoft Teams, or Google Hangouts, to take many meetings and interviews remote. Specifically for the grants space, you may conduct site visits virtually through these tools, too.

Adopt application management software, like Submittable, to replace in-person review and selection processes. Review teams of any size can tackle applications and make decisions based on customized scoring systems, while communicating through in-platform messaging.

Go paperless. The majority of foundations now use electronic grant application processes, but if you are in the minority, now is the time to update your procedure. This is also the time to examine any instances that you use paper—can you replace paper letters with email communication? Can you wire funds to your grantee accounts instead of sending checks via post?

Do less. Going fully remote in a crisis may simply mean letting some tasks slide. The Helen J. Serini Foundation, for example, cancelled all of their upcoming site visits, citing them as not vital to their current mission, which is helping their grantees during the crisis.

2. Reduce the burden on grantees

Place yourself in the grantee’s shoes. Many of them are strained by the consequences of the crisis and many of them need funding for crisis-related work yesterday. Anything you can do to make their job easier helps them, the community, and everyone’s efforts toward relief.

Just a few of many ideas:

  • Consider expanding your funding or changing the scope of your funding.
  • Ease requirements on existing grants, including requirements related to spending, reporting, timelines, outcomes, and allocations.
  • Consider offering general operating support, such as  technical support or infrastructure support, to grantees who are struggling with moving to remote work or adapting to the conditions of the emergency.
  • Make grant modifications easy through extremely simplified processes.
  • Consider making grant payments sooner and/or expediting the timeline of future payments.
3. Communicate transparently

The first best step toward easing the burden for your grantees is asking them about their situation and listening to their needs. This is the time to reach out individually to your grantees to both let them know what changes your organization is making to provide emergency relief as well as better understand what changes they are undergoing to adapt to the situation and continue making an impact.

This isn’t an opportunity for only sending a general public statement about “the current situation” and leaving it at that. This is the time to make individual phone calls or video conference meetings. Connect with individuals who are leaders in your community and get the best handle on the situation before you start organizing a unified response.

Don’t forget to communicate internally. If you’re making sweeping changes to the process in which you create and award grants, make those changes crystal clear. Just because you’re turning to a bare-bones system for issuing a grant doesn’t mean you can skip vital steps like getting your team on the same page.

Also communicate to the public and to donors. If you’re making drastic changes to your grant process, let people know. If you’re offering a ten-day application window for a new series of emergency relief grants, get the word out as quickly as possible so that the organizations and individuals who would benefit know to apply. If you are doing something new and exciting that will really help fast, let your donors know.

You will need to cease a lot of your “normal” tasks as a foundation, but communication is not one of them. Information that’s important to communicate especially in times of emergency includes:

  • How operations have been affected, such as a move to remote operation.
  • Any scheduled events that will be changed, cancelled, or postponed.
  • How your employees are being supported during this time.
  • How your grants processes and requirements are changing.
  • Special grants, events, and strategies that you are launching to help.
  • Other organizations that are offering assistance.
  • How readers can help.

Communicate this information through multiple channels:

  • Through email
  • On your website
  • On social media
  • Through the media
  • In a press release

Consider creating a simple survey to assess needs. Help everyone communicate their needs to you without a huge time commitment, especially if you don’t have the bandwidth to reach out individually. Quickly understanding the scope of the problem as you are forming your emergency grants to ensure you’ll be finding the right solutions.

Lilia Perez, Grants and Programs Manager at Arts Mid-Hudson, realized that much of what her nonprofit was funding was going to be cancelled, postponed, rescheduled indefinitely, or restructured into a new program. Before deciding on next steps, she set up a simple survey via Submittable to collect information and assess needs before picking up the phone.

She told Submittable:

First-Year Reflections from Former Board Chair Mike Clayborne

What an honor and privilege it was to be involved in the preliminary discussions, planning and ultimate execution of the merger of the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers and the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits to form the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy. There were so many people that played important roles in seeing this merger through to conclusion; I am reluctant to name any names. I would, however, be remiss if I did not mention the pivotal leadership of Sammy Moon, Wendy Mullins, Aisha Nyandoro, and Jo G Pritchard. The boards of both organizations, staff, and excellent consultant support, particularly from Nancy Perret, were also critically important.

Of course, it is hard to imagine the success of this groundbreaking adventure without the encouragement and financial support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Thank you, WKKF, from everyone in Mississippi. We are blessed to have you as a valued partner.

The relationship of the two organizations has been described as “two sides of the same coin.” Nevertheless, it was two different sides with different cultures and different perspectives on many issues. Each side really didn’t think the other understood their viewpoint very well. To the credit of those involved, a vision evolved of what could be possible and how Mississippi could show leadership in bringing together the “two sides of the same coin.”

I think it is remarkable in such a short period of time that such progress has been made in assembling an outstanding staff, enhancing the delivery of programs, continuing support for affinity groups (education and community foundations), finding a high profile office location, and moving towards financial sustainability. A special thank you to Sammy Moon.

I am proud to have served as the first chair of The Alliance board. I look forward to continuing being involved and seeing the impact this organization has on improving the quality of life of all of the citizens of Mississippi.

Like Many Great Ideas

It was the fall of 2016, and I was the chair of the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits. The Mississippi Association of Grantmakers (MAG) was in its formative years but already making waves in philanthropic circles. Perhaps for the first time in Mississippi history, nonprofit leaders and funders were in the same room talking openly about a shared vision and goals for advancing the state.

The two organizations successfully collaborated on a joint conference, “Positioned for Progress”, and with it, attracted new stakeholders to the table. These connections planted a seed that the two organizations might be stronger as one.

Despite this momentum, I will always credit the beginnings of the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy to a meal with then MAG Director Sammy Moon. We were debriefing the conference and generally discussing what comes next for the two organizations over lunch. The scribbling began on a napkin, and soon the “two sides of the same coin” idea emerged. The merger was set in motion.

Two years, hundreds of hours, and a few road trips later, the separate organizations disbanded and started anew as one. As fate would have it, I was at the lunch meeting where the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits’ board cast its final vote to dissolve and join The Alliance.

Not long after, I was attending a meeting of community leaders in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I overheard a conversation about Mississippi. As I braced for the usual, “At least we’re not Mississippi,” I heard something else, something remarkable: “How did Mississippi do it? Maybe we should invite someone from The Alliance to our next meeting? How can we attract funders to our conversations? We need to learn from them how to engage nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to work together.”

It was a lightbulb moment. We had done something remarkable in our state. Through the Alliance, Mississippi is breaking new ground and getting national recognition for pooling its collective generosity, creativity, and accountability to improve our communities and ensure all Mississippians have the resources they need to succeed. It feels good to be first. And it all started on the back of a napkin.

A New Level of Collaboration and Impact

Throughout its 56-year history, the Phil Hardin Foundation has emphasized collaboration. We don’t have the luxury of excess capacity in Mississippi, so working together is a necessity.

We’ve also long believed that partnership, not paternalism, should be the guiding principle in the relationship between philanthropy and nonprofits.

Hardin Foundation grants helped start and sustain both the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits and the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers. In their time, they exemplified the best of collaboration in their spheres.

But when leaders in those separate spheres began to talk seriously about working together more closely, it seemed to us at the Hardin Foundation to portend an even more powerful partnership. The Center and MAG had done extraordinary work in advancing collaboration for the common good, but how much more could be accomplished for Mississippians if they came together as one?

This exciting prospect guided our board in its decision to provide a three-year, $225,000 startup grant for the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy. We knew Mississippi would be blazing a trail with this first-of-its-kind partnership, but where better than here—and when better than now—to make it happen?

A year into this experiment in a new level of collaboration, the Hardin Foundation is encouraged by what we see. A new energy and sense of possibility are emerging among both nonprofits and philanthropy as we learn more about each other through the Alliance and discover ways that we can better achieve our common goals.
COVID-19 has only underscored the value of a unified effort. This crisis has birthed several Alliance initiatives that clearly demonstrate the enhanced impact and influence of a new kind of organization intent on breaking down barriers that keep Mississippians from working together to achieve common goals.

The Alliance is already responding to the monumental challenges our state faces and is doing so by forging a stronger bond between two groups critical to addressing those challenges. This is a partnership worth supporting in a state that needs and deserves all the collaboration it can muster.

Philanthropy and nonprofits are in the same business and share the same overarching goals. Neither can do without the other. The Alliance affirms and celebrates this reality, and the Hardin Foundation is pleased to be one of its founding partners.

First Year Reflections from the Executive Director

Reflecting about the first year of The Alliance is an easy task, but condensing these reflections into a few brief paragraphs is almost impossible. Nonetheless, I will give it a try—beginning with the fact that seeing The Alliance created last April after two years or more of planning was truly a dream come true, and few of us have the opportunity to see dreams fulfilled. I consider myself extremely fortunate and blessed to have been part of the design, planning, strategizing, relationship building, and fundraising that was necessary to bring the idea to reality.  And, I continue to be honored that I was asked to be the first executive director.   

The team of professionals and the nonprofit and philanthropic leaders I get to work with on a daily basis is truly remarkable, and I am constantly in awe of the amazingly creative and impactful work being done every day in communities across the state. It is a constant reinforcement that the decision to bring philanthropy and nonprofits together under one organization was the right decision, not only for the members of The Alliance but also for the children, families, and communities we serve. 

The values that were identified for The Alliance during the planning process continue to drive our work: integrity, transparency, equity, inclusion, quality, flexibility, and customer service. It is my belief that as The Alliance has grown—in staff and organizational capacity and member services—these core values still drive the work while keeping us focused on our mission. 

The Board of Directors for The Alliance has been a remarkable group of committed and concerned individuals that have exhibited incredible focus, stamina, and vision for our work.  They have always insisted on best practices and results but have never shied away from innovation, creativity, and thinking outside the box.  For that we are grateful.

Thanks to our visionary and generous funders we are on stable financial ground, and the multi-year funding commitments that have been received along with the growing sense that our funders are truly partners in the work is astounding.  Over this past year, the sense that we are all in this business together and the understanding that the business we are in is about achieving better results for children, families, and communities has solidified.  

We are on a new journey together and we still have a long way to go, but if the first year is an indication of what is to come, I can honestly say it will be an exciting, adventurous, and inspiring trip! 

The Ally: June 2020

Note from the Executive Director

Reflecting about the first year of The Alliance is an easy task, but condensing these reflections into a few brief paragraphs is almost impossible. Nonetheless, I will give it a try—beginning with the fact that seeing The Alliance created last April after two years or more of planning was truly a dream come true, and few of us have the opportunity to see dreams fulfilled. I consider myself extremely fortunate and blessed to have been part of the design, planning, strategizing, relationship building, and fundraising that was necessary to bring the idea to reality. And, I continue to be honored that I was asked to be the first executive director.

The team of professionals and the nonprofit and philanthropic leaders I get to work with on a daily basis is truly remarkable, and I am constantly in awe of the amazingly creative and impactful work being done every day in communities across the state. It is a constant reinforcement that the decision to bring philanthropy and nonprofits together under one organization was the right decision, not only for the members of The Alliance but also for the children, families, and communities we serve.

The values that were identified for The Alliance during the planning process continue to drive our work: integrity, transparency, equity, inclusion, quality, flexibility, and customer service. It is my belief that as The Alliance has grown—in staff and organizational capacity and member services—these core values still drive the work while keeping us focused on our mission.

The Board of Directors for The Alliance has been a remarkable group of committed and concerned individuals that have exhibited incredible focus, stamina, and vision for our work. They have always insisted on best practices and results but have never shied away from innovation, creativity, and thinking outside the box. For that we are grateful.

Thanks to our visionary and generous funders we are on stable financial ground, and the multi-year funding commitments that have been received along with the growing sense that our funders are truly partners in the work is astounding. Over this past year, the sense that we are all in this business together and the understanding that the business we are in is about achieving better results for children, families, and communities has solidified.

We are on a new journey together and we still have a long way to go, but if the first year is an indication of what is to come, I can honestly say it will be an exciting, adventurous, and inspiring trip!

– Sammy Moon, Executive Director

A New Level of Collaboration and Impact

Lloyd Gray, Executive Director, The Phil Hardin Foundation

Throughout its 56-year history, the Phil Hardin Foundation has emphasized collaboration. We don’t have the luxury of excess capacity in Mississippi, so working together is a necessity.

We’ve also long believed that partnership, not paternalism, should be the guiding principle in the relationship between philanthropy and nonprofits.

Hardin Foundation grants helped start and sustain both the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits and the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers. In their time, they exemplified the best of collaboration in their spheres.
But when leaders in those separate spheres began to talk seriously about working together more closely, it seemed to us at the Hardin Foundation to portend an even more powerful partnership.

Click here to read the full article from Lloyd Gray at The Phil Hardin Foundation

Like Many Great Ideas …

Liz Brister, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Entergy

Like many great ideas, this one started on the back of a napkin.

It was the fall of 2016, and I was the chair of the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits. The Mississippi Association of Grantmakers (MAG) was in its formative years but already making waves in philanthropic circles. Perhaps for the first time in Mississippi history, nonprofit leaders and funders were in the same room talking openly about a shared vision and goals for advancing the state.

The two organizations successfully collaborated on a joint conference, “Positioned for Progress”, and with it, attracted new stakeholders to the table. These connections planted a seed that the two organizations might be stronger as one.

Despite this momentum, I will always credit the beginnings of the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy to a meal with then MAG Director Sammy Moon.

Click here to read Liz’s reflection.

It Is Hard to Imagine the Success of this Groundbreaking Adventure

Mike Clayborne, President, CREATE Foundation

What an honor and privilege it was to be involved in the preliminary discussions, planning and ultimate execution of the merger of the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers and the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits to form the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy. There were so many people that played important roles in seeing this merger through to conclusion; I am reluctant to name any names. I would, however, be remiss if I did not mention the pivotal leadership of Sammy Moon, Wendy Mullins, Aisha Nyandoro, and Jo G Pritchard. The boards of both organizations, staff, and excellent consultant support, particularly from Nancy Perret, were also critically important.

Of course, it is hard to imagine the success of this groundbreaking adventure without the encouragement and financial support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Thank you, Kellogg Foundation, from everyone in Mississippi. We are blessed to have you as a valued partner.

The relationship of the two organizations has been described as “two sides of the same coin.” Nevertheless, it was two different sides with different cultures and different perspectives on many issues.

Click here to read Mike’s reflection.

Reflections on Year One

Nancy-Perret

Nancy Perret
Design and Implementation
Project Manager

The Alliance

“I love it when a plan comes together!” Three years of planning culminated in the creation of the Alliance last April, and it’s been exciting to see the plan come to fruition. As with any plan, change occurs during implementation, both because of changes in circumstances (little things, like pandemics, can influence the plan!) and lessons learned along the way. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have developed amazing local, state-level and national partners that have helped us to achieve the dream of an organization that is truly state-wide, highly impactful, and aimed at fundamentally changing the relationship and dialog between and among nonprofits AND philanthropy.

I’ve been honored to have had the opportunity to play the role of project manager in bringing that dream to reality. For me, this has been the culmination of more than thirty years of working in and with the sector, has challenged every bit of my project management, organizational development and strategic planning skills, and has been, by far, my most rewarding project.

My partnership with The Alliance encouraged me to focus more on webinar training. I had not tried that before and was amazed at how much I enjoyed doing it, so much so, that I now have made it an essential part of my business. I was encouraged to expand into social media, which was one of the best decisions I ever made, besides consulting with The Alliance.

I have enjoyed reaching more clients and being able to serve their current needs outside of a traditional office setting. Working with key colleagues and consultants with The Alliance has given me the opportunity to expand my services throughout the country and work with other organizations in the nonprofit sector.

Because of my partnership with The Alliance I have had the opportunity to grow, learn and develop as I continue to enhance my nonprofit consulting skills while helping nonprofits clients throughout the country. That success has allowed me to build my business and is an example of the mutual benefits this partnership has provided.

Michael-Dozier-vintage

Michael Dozier
Principal Owner
Carrington, Holland, & Leigh, LLC

The history of The Alliance is revealed within these reflections, but there is another perspective on our first year, that of new staff members.

EllenCollins

Ellen Collins
Chief Operating Officer
The Alliance

I joined the Alliance because I wanted to be part of a group that is working to uplift nonprofits and bring partners together for “real collaboration” that leads to “real change.

I joined the Alliance because I wanted to be part of a group that is working to uplift nonprofits and bring partners together for “real collaboration” that leads to “real change.

EllenCollins

Ellen Collins
Chief Operating Officer
The Alliance

Coupling General Operating, Capacity Building Grants Drive Outcomes

Providing long-term general operating support along with capacity-building grants may be a “gold standard” funding practice that drives positive outcomes achieved at the community level, a report commissioned by the Citi Foundation and produced by Synergos finds.

Drawn from secondary research and interviews with more than fifty funders and nonprofits, the report, Funding From a Place of Trust: Exploring the Value of General Operating Support and Capacity Building Grants (41 pages, PDF), found that coupling multiyear general operating support with funding for capacity building allows nonprofits to avoid the tradeoff between investing in capacity and programmatic growth on the one hand and sustaining that newly acquired capacity on the other. Given that the benefits of general operating support and capacity building play out over time, the report argues that funders should invest early and for the long haul — with grant terms of five to seven years. One essential factor in the effectiveness of general operating and capacity building support, the study found, is the willingness of a grantee to make the changes necessary to move from a project mindset to a broader impact-oriented mindset.

According to the report, general operating support is a form of “trust capital” that, when coupled with capacity building or programmatic funding, establishes a trust-based relationship and helps re-balance the power differential between funder and grantee. Leveling the playing field also helps foster honest two-way communication and, in turn, learning and capacity building for both parties.

The report includes case studies of four recipients of flexible funding — Career Ready, the Firelight Foundation, the Global Fund for Children, and Whatcom Community Foundation.

“Donors should acknowledge the limitations of short-term cycles of one to three years which tend to be the norm in the funding landscape,” the report’s authors conclude. “[General operating support] combined with targeted [capacity building] funding can give organizations the time, space, and confidence to rethink and strengthen their engagement with the communities.”

Nonprofits and Philanthropic Organizations: Right There When We Need Them

GuideStar manages the world’s largest online source of information on nonprofit organizations. Using publicly available information, as well as information nonprofits provide, GuideStar has created a data and knowledge hub dedicated to a more transparent nonprofit sector, improved intelligence about tax-exempt organizations, and more confident charitable giving.

  • Your nonprofit organization already has a presence on GuideStar.
  • Did you know that funding organizations regularly use GuideStar, as part of due diligence?
  • As an Alliance member, you can conduct a subscription-level search of all nonprofits in Mississippi.
  • You can significantly improve your presence on GuideStar—and in doing do, increase your organization’s appeal to potential donors and funders.

Sign in to start your search.

The Ally: April 2020

Note from the Executive Director: What Enduring Effects Will COVID-19 Have on Education in Mississippi?

Classrooms on campuses across the state sit empty and silent while educators and administrators of students from Pre-K to postsecondary programs scramble to identify and implement new methods and modes of teaching during a time when teachers and students are separated by miles. The immediate and dramatic shift to virtual classrooms caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated inequities that exist at every level of education in Mississippi, with many low-income and rural students unable to access the technology required to shift to online learning.

Decades of disinvestment in poor, rural communities has limited access to technology thereby increasing achievement gaps, and if we do not develop a thoughtful and coordinated response that lasts beyond the COVID-19 crisis and that includes educators, parents, nonprofits, philanthropy, and public sector leaders, there could potentially be very negative impacts on the state’s education system and economy.

The Alliance’s Education Affinity Group (EAG) was established to convene funders supporting education at all levels to better understand education issues in the state, to learn from each other about what philanthropic investments are currently underway, and to identify ways philanthropy can help solve some of the state’s most persistent education challenges. EAG members recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to highlight the inequities that impact learning and to develop longer term strategies to rectify these inequities. The EAG will be inviting several funders and leaders in education to share their thoughts about how education inequity is showing up during COVID-19 and what nonprofits, funders, and the government should be considering as we move from response to recovery.

Over the next few months, The Ally will feature brief articles about relevant issues impacting education, including that of inequity. We will feature written pieces from individuals with knowledge about the field, beginning next month with an article from Jim McHale, CEO of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation.  We will also keep readers up to date on what is being learned from the Education Affinity Group conversations.

– Sammy Moon, Executive Director

Responding to the Enormous Need During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Nonprofit Perspective

By Dixie Renault, Project Director, Manna Ministries

On March 1, 2020, based on state and national recommendations regarding the COVID-19, Manna Ministries began to reassess our programs. Assuring patients that our free primary care medical clinic is available and that they still have access to care and medications is a priority. So immediately, we implemented telehealth operations in order to protect our patients and our volunteers. Many people have lost their jobs, or had their hours reduced. Those who cannot afford their medications any longer, have continued to receive our assistance. Manna Ministries had provided a food delivery program for shut-ins for many years. The need for food delivery has increased ten-fold due to the COVID-19 virus. Many of our clients are older citizens who are considered high risk due to age and/or compromised health conditions.

On March 16, we began making deliveries of food, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, etc. to a senior housing community that had requested our assistance. The residents were self-isolating and full of uncertainty about themselves and their families. In addition to food and supplies, we delivered some Easter baskets to them to provide some cheer.

Until our supplies ran out, we delivered personal protective equipment to our first responders, some of the local clinics and the hospital. We have ordered more, but as you can imagine our resources are rapidly diminishing. We are scrambling on two fronts now; to ramp up emergency services, and to find volunteers and resources to help those in need. We continue to receive daily requests for assistance at all levels.

I know we are not alone in this struggle. Nonprofits across our nation find themselves in unprecedented circumstances, attempting to fulfill greater obligations than ever before. I am sure non-profits in all our cities would request that funders reconsider their allocation of resources at this deeply challenging time. While I fully realize that this is a monumental request, there is enormous need right now. The essentials of everyday living are more difficult to sustain. From the need for food, personal protective equipment, medical access, and volunteers, the list is long and the need is great. I know that nonprofits across our nation will rise to the occasion.

That is what we do. Every day.

Member Spotlight

Manna Ministries

Picayune

Since their founding in 1999, Manna Ministries goal has been to help families and or individuals reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty.

In time of human need, Manna Ministries provides and restores health and support to those in need without regard to geographical areas. Every day families struggle to make ends meet and suffer from lack of basic human needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare.

Since the organization’s founding, Picayune based Manna Ministries has provided more than $5 million to aid families in all of our programs. Last year alone, the organization served over 32,000 families through our various programs. Following the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac, Manna Ministries assisted 1,800 families with repairs or rebuilds to their homes through their disaster case management program.

At Manna Ministries, their slogan says it best: “Together we can make a difference”.

News & Updates

The COVID-19 crisis has been a time of learning. Many people have learned new tunes to sing while washing their hands, how to make face coverings, how to attend a webinar, and how to order groceries online. While this can be a time of frustration and anxiety, The Alliance wants to help make this a productive time as well. What better way to spend some extra hours then attending one or more of our webinars?

During the course of May, we will be offering some incredible new webinars that will be taught by leaders in the field and adapted to meet the current situation. But wait, it gets better. We appreciate that money is tight, so we have cut our pricing by more than half! Our aim is to be able to make this so accessible that you will join us for more than one and bring some friends and colleagues along with you.

When you fill out our May Training Registration Form, if you sign up for one training it will be $25. If you sign up for two trainings they will only be $20 each. If you sign up for three trainings, they will only cost you $15 each! To see the full list of webinars you can visit https://alliancems.org/alliance-site/event-directory/.

Want more of the Alliance? Not a problem. You can see Sammy, Ellen, Jeffery and the rest of the team during our Weekly Webinars. This is a time to get updates about The Alliance, have expert presenters discuss important things happening in the state, and network with other organizations in MS. Join us each Thursday from 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM! Click here to participate.

Nonprofit & Philanthropic News

Mississipi Secretary of State Charity Registrations Extended to July 15

Due to the IRS COVID-19 relief efforts and in compliance with the law, the expiration date for renewal registrations due by May 15, 2020, has been extended to July 15, 2020. However, filers wishing to file the renewal registration today may do so at this time and are encouraged to file now. You may contact the Division at charities.customerservice@sos.ms.gov or 601-359-1599 for additional information.

Why All Foundations Should Support the Guardians of the Nonprofit World Now

[W]e need to do more to ensure that nonprofits get the help they need when new stimulus bills are crafted and implementation plans for existing ones are shaped. And throughout this critical period we need full-throated advocacy campaigns to make certain that America’s most marginalized people don’t face the prospect of entrenched inequities becoming even deeper.

Think about it: Every philanthropic strategy depends on the health of nonprofits. A philanthropist’s work can be no stronger than the nonprofit organizations actually doing the work.

Read the entire article here.

Rethinking Social Change in the Face of Coronavirus

COVID-19 has affected every aspect of life around the globe, from individual relationships to institutional operations to international collaborations. As societies try to defend themselves through severe restrictions on people’s movement and interactions, the disease continues to decimate families, upend governments, crush economies, and tear through the social sector.

How should the social sector respond to the evolving crisis? How will nonprofits, foundations, philanthropic organizations, and social justice advocates emerge from the pandemic? What unique insight and capabilities can civil society bring to bear on the problems the world now faces? How will organizations manage potentially calamitous challenges to funding their operations?

Read the entire article here.

Fundraising in the Time of COVID: A TechSoup Roundup

These are certainly strange days. People are sheltering in place and taking a much closer look at their finances in case of sickness and emergency. It just doesn’t seem like the right time for business-as-usual nonprofit fundraising — and it probably isn’t. But not so fast, says Ben Miller, chief analytic officer of DonorTrends and secretary of the Growth in Giving Initiative, a program of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). If we look at what happened during the Great Recession, giving to nonprofits remained steady, with only slight declines over the entire period.

His insights are in the recent AFP article Charitable Giving in Times of Fear and Uncertainty. Miller concludes, “When the current crisis ends, history will show that the most successful nonprofits continued to ask for donations, although likely in a different way. Those nonprofits who go ‘silent’ or attempt to give their donors a break will likely see the same results as others before them — and suffer or even go out of business as a result.”

Read the entire article here.

Hub for Volunteerism, Capacity-Building, and Training

New & Renewing Members of The Alliance

Charles L. Young Sr. Foundation

Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities

First Church of Deliverance

Gordon Community and Cultural Center

Mississippi Families for Kids

Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation

MS Delta Academies

Second Liners Mardi Gras Club

Waynesboro-Wayne County Library

Wildlife Mississippi

Wingard Home Ministry

Upcoming Training & Events

COVID-19 Weekly Webinar Update

When:  Every Thursday
Time:    9:00 am – 10:00 am
Where: Online Webinar

 The Alliance will host a weekly COVID-19 webinar update, beginning this Thursday, April 2nd. The webinars will occur at the same time each week. The focus will be on learning, sharing, identifying needs/resources, and generally supporting each other. Please take a moment and add these webinars to your calendar!

 https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/777167189

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: 1-872-240-3212
Access Code: 777-167-189

Telling Your Story in Times of Crisis

When:  Monday, May 11
Time:    1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Where: Online Webinar 

There’s no denying that these are tough times. When times are tough, it’s really common for organizations to struggle with what to say, particularly on social media, but in other outlets also. Do you stick with your old messaging and pretend it’s still business as usual? Do you commit your feed to only COVID-19 related posts from now on?

Human Resources in a Time of Crisis

When:  Wednesday, May 13
Time:    9:00 am – 10:30 am
Where: Online Webinar

Diseases like COVID-19 can bring a busy workforce to a standstill. Organizations have to take numerous steps to limit the risk to your community from the possible spread of the virus. Human Resources continues to respond to the evolving situation by reviewing and updating related policies and procedures.

Basic Grant Proposal Strategies Part 1 of 3

When:  Thursday, May 21, 28, and June 4
Time:    1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Where: Online Webinar

This class is designed for beginners, as well as practiced grant writers who need to understand the elements of a proposal and how to successfully integrate each into a compelling proposal, as well as the process for successful grant research. 

Update from the National Council of Nonprofits: Analysis of COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Legislation

How the COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Bill Would Affect Nonprofit

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act 

(CARES Act) (S. 748)

Congressional and Administration negotiators reached agreement on the Phase 3 COVID-19 economic stimulus bill early Wednesday morning and just released the legislative text this hour. The Senate and House hope to pass the $2 trillion legislation as quickly as possible.

What’s in the Bill for Nonprofits

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (S. 748) provides significant funding for businesses, hospitals, schools, and social support programs, among many other things. Below are key nonprofit issues of sector-wide interest on which advocates have been most active. These are based on an initial analysis of the nearly 900-page bill. More details may become apparent with more thorough analysis.

Emergency Small Business Loans (emergency SBA 7(a) loans): Provides funding for special emergency loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits and small businesses, permitting them to cover costs of payroll, operations, and debt service, and provides that the loans be forgiven in whole or in part under certain circumstances. Title I, Section 1102.

  • General Eligibility: Available to entities that existed on March 1, 2020 and had paid employees.
  • Nonprofit Eligibility: Available for charitable nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees (counting each individual – full time or part time and not FTEs). The final bill does not include a provision in earlier drafts that would have disqualified nonprofits that are eligible for payments under Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid).
  • Loan Use: Loan funds could be used to make payroll and associated costs, including health insurance premiums, facilities costs, and debt service.
  • Loan Forgiveness: Employers that maintain employment between March 1 and June 30 would be eligible to have their loans forgiven, essentially turning the loan into a grant. Section 1106.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): Eliminates creditworthiness requirements and appropriates an additional $10 billion to the EIDL program so that eligible nonprofits and other applicants can get checks for $10,000 within three days. Section 1110.

Self-Funded Nonprofits and Unemployment: Only reimburses self-funded nonprofits for half of the costs of benefits provided to their laid-off employees. This is explained in a recent blog article. Section 2103.

Charitable Giving Incentive: Includes a new above-the-line deduction (universal or non-itemizer deduction that applies to all taxpayers) for total charitable contributions of up to $300. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year. Section 2204. The bill also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60 percent of adjusted gross income to 100 percent. For corporations, the bill raises the annual limit from 10 percent to 25 percent. Food donations from corporations would be available to 25 percent, up from the current 15 percent cap. Section 2205.

Self-Funded Nonprofits and Unemployment: Only reimburses self-funded nonprofits for half of the costs of benefits provided to their laid-off employees. This is explained in a recent blog article. Section 2103.

Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit: Creates a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. The entity had to be an ongoing concern at the beginning of 2020 and had seen a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019. The availability of the credit would continue each quarter until the organization’s revenue exceeds 80 percent of the same quarter in 2019. For tax-exempt organizations, the entity’s whole operations must be taken into account when determining the decline in revenues. Notably, employers receiving emergency SBA 7(a) loans would not be eligible for these credits. Section 2301.

Industry Stabilization Fund: Creates a loan and loan guarantee program for industries like airlines to keep them solvent through the crisis. It sets aside $425 billion for “eligible business” which is defined as “a United States business that has not otherwise received economic relief in the form of loans or loan guarantees provided under” the legislation. It is expected, but unclear, whether charitable nonprofits qualify under that definition for industry stabilization loans. Mid-sized businesses, including nonprofits, that have between 500 and 10,000 employees are expressly eligible for loans under this provision. Although there is no loan forgiveness provision in this section, the mid-size business loans would be charged an interest rate of no higher than two percent and  would not accrue interest or require repayments for the first six months. Nonprofits accepting the mid-size business loans must retain at least 90 percent of their staff at full compensation.  Section 4003.

 

Other Significant Provisions

Direct Payments to adults of $1,200 or less and $500 per child ($3,400 for a family of four) to be sent out in weeks. The amount of the payments phases out based on earnings of between $75,000 and $99,000 ($150,000 / $198,000 for couples).

Expanded Unemployment Insurance: Includes coverage for workers who are furloughed, gig workers, and freelancers. Increases payments by $600 per week for four months on top of what state unemployment programs pay.

Amendments to the New Paid Leave Mandates: Lowers the amounts that employers must pay for paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act* (enacted March 19) to the amounts covered by the refundable payroll tax credit – i.e., $511 per day for employee sick leave or $200 per day for family leave.

Significant Spending: The bill also calls for large infusions of cash to the following sectors:

  • $150 billion for a state, tribal, and local Coronavirus Relief fund
  • $130 billion for hospitals
  • $30 billion for education
  • $25 billion for transit systems

Legislative Summaries

 

* See: Analysis of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

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