REOPENINGS

FPLG COVID-19 RESPONSE

REOPENINGS

[June 26, 2020]

“The unthinkable happened. And yet, through it all, our sector has continued to ‘do good.’ In some respects, our sector never closed.”

That’s how the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits opens its excellent, 60-page, reference guide to the challenge of moving from the initial – highly traumatic and disruptive – shelter-in-place phase of the COVID-19 pandemic toward small bits and pieces of “normalcy.”  

At the outset of the pandemic, nonprofits were advised to quickly consider the steps needed “to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and – as much as possible – plan for the near future and their ultimate survivability. “

There has been intense and growing pressure – (counter to sound advice from epidemiologists and public health experts) – to “open up” the economy as quickly as possible. Even early-lockdown states like California are now moving through stages of reopenings at a dizzying speed. So, the crisis-planning strategy of each nonprofit organization must evolve once again: more quickly than expected or perhaps advisable. 

“Reopening will be jurisdiction-specific, subject to compliance with all state and local directives as well as any industry-specific requirements.” For the nonprofit sector more particularly, there are (or soon will be) distinct rules and guidelines for various categories like churches, museums and other arts organizations, and educational institutions.

“As an overarching consideration, organizational leaders owe a fiduciary duty of due care regarding its activities. In other words, they should be vigilantly attentive to COVID-19-related attendance and participation matters, as they would be for any other safety-related issue that could threaten health and safety of individuals.”  Under this duty of care, directors are generally “presumed to make decisions on an informed basis and in good faith” so long as they have acted as an (objectively) reasonable person would act under similar facts and circumstances. 

This new subsection of our website’s “Crisis Management” section has been added to collect and present information and resources on the challenges facing nonprofits around the nation as they navigate this new phase of the pandemic. 

 

 

Contact FPLG (619) 780.3839

...Nonprofit leaders owe a fiduciary duty of due care…. [They] should be prepared to proceed with caution and flexibility, with safety considerations and risk management of paramount importance. The strategy for reopening will likely look much different for each organization, depending on its type, nature of services, and location.

— Wagenmaker & Oberly (6/15/20)

During a global crisis like this, …, it’s difficult to plan for the future when we don’t know what the next week or month will look like. All nonprofit CEO’s and executive directors are working hard to make the best decisions they can ….

— Lindsay Tallman, BoardSource (5/5/20)

Now, we begin a slow – and methodical – process of reopening our offices and facilities. It will not be like turning on a light switch. 

— Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits (5/4/20)

…[E]mployers must start considering how best to cope with a vast array of issues, including restarting or expanding operations, reintegrating remote-working or furloughed employees, implementing new state and local orders/requirements, and protecting the safety of employees and [the public].

Sarah Bouchard, Esq., Morgan Lewis (4/16/20)

REFERENCES & RESOURCES

GO TO – LAWS & RULES

Remote-Work Costs: Must Nonprofit Reimburse?

[June 5, 2020] Among the many adjustments that employers - including nonprofits - have had to make during the COVID-19 pandemic is the abrupt switch to remote work for some or all of their employees. That includes making sure that everyone in the workforce has needed hardware, software, and internet and phone connectivity.  California is among the jurisdictions that initiated early and mandatory stay-at-home orders for a large portion of the population and economy. There [...]

Filing Deadlines Extended for Nonprofit Organizations

[April 24, 2020] By the third week of March 2020, governments at all levels had begun to respond to the many questions and issues raised by the COVID-19 emergency, including - most notably - the curtailment or suspension of operations and activities by individuals and entities on account of new stay-at-home orders  and recommendations.  The necessary federal emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act was made in mid-March. The [...]

UPDATE: The CARES Act and Nonprofits

[March 27, 2020] The third prong of the Congressional response to the COVID-19 pandemic - the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (S. 747) - is now before the House of Representatives, having passed the Senate on Wednesday. The House is expected to approve it today with overwhelming support; voting is expected to begin shortly.  It could be signed at the White House and in effect before the end of this weekend. [...]

Some Good News: Funders are Stepping Up

Ten days ago, we posted Funders Must Step Up - Right Now! (March 16, 2020).   That same morning, influential blogger Vu Le had posted Funders, this is the rainy day you have been saving up for. Mr. Le has long been a vocal critic of many foundations’ viewing the five percent payout figure in the tax code as a ceiling instead of what it is: a floor.  During that week, as most of us were [...]

Nonprofit Board Meetings in an Emergency

The devastating pandemic has brought sudden and profound challenges for all of us.  In What Nonprofit Board Members Should Be Doing Right Now to Address the COVID-19 Situation, (March 16, 2020), the experts from BoardSource write:  “As the world responds to the threats of COVID-19, many nonprofits and their boards are wrestling with difficult questions and decisions.”  A rewrite of that sentence may be in order; every nonprofit and its board is flying blind in [...]

The Charitable Sector: COVID-19 Relief and Economic Stimulus Package

America's charities request $60 billion infusion of support to help the most vulnerable March 18, 2020 The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic facing the country is having a profound impact on the economy and has greatly expanded the need for charitable organizations to provide additional services in an unprecedented manner. At the same time, the economic downturn will undoubtedly result in a contraction in contributions and other sources of revenue which are the lifeblood of many charitable [...]

Coronavirus and Nonprofits: Challenges & Resources

What a difference a week makes. Last week, the news media focused on the minutiae of the primary-election horse race. This week, Americans have been forced to confront the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For the nonprofit sector, the emergency becomes a double-barreled crisis: we are both victims and saviors. This is not an unfamiliar conundrum; there are frequent natural disasters that devastate one area or another. This nation’s charitable organizations - and, in particular, the social [...]

Funders Must Step Up – Right Now!

“Funders,” writes nonprofit blogger Vu Le, “this is the rainy day you have been saving up for.”  Recently, we wrote about Mr. Le’s earlier plea for America’s foundations to step up their payouts beyond the “five percent rule” in the federal tax code. In an article last summer, he characterized it as a moral imperative: The ethical argument for foundations to increase their annual payout rate beyond 5% (August 4, 2019). This morning, it’s a [...]

Small Business Association Disaster Loan Guidance and Resources

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has an existing program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, that extends disaster relief loans to small businesses, including nonprofits, to help alleviate economic injury caused by disasters.  On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the SBA announced that the program will be available to claims arising from COVID-19.  The SBA will work with state officials to offer loans of up to $2 million.  “These loans may be used to pay [...]