Arts Alert: Latest Minnesota Council of Nonprofits update for nonprofits regarding COVID-19 (FROM MCN NEWSLETTER)

Dear MCN Members and Friends,
 
In the past week, we have witnessed rapidly evolving responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Minnesota’s Stay-at-Home order, movement on another federal stimulus bill (still in progress), new policy and funding responses from the Walz administration and Minnesota Legislature, new unemployment considerations for both employers and individuals, and new funding opportunities and resources.

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) wants to ensure nonprofits have the information they need to navigate these challenging times. This update highlights some of the most recent changes, resources, and action items (click links below to jump to specific issue):Current MCN Public Policy FocusesMN DHS Temporary Waivers and Requirement ModificationsPolicy Action to Maintain Critical Services and Support Economic SecurityFamilies First Coronavirus Response ActResponsive Fundraising Updates and ResourcesCalls with the Governor’s Office and Leadership Conference UpdateMCN continues to update our COVID-19 resource page, so please stay tuned to MCN’s website, social media channels, and emails for more information. 
Current MCN Public Policy Focuses 
MCN has been in near-constant contact with policymakers at the state and federal levels, bringing the concerns and knowledge of the nonprofit sector into the conversations. Recognizing that policy solutions related to protecting public health are appropriately policymakers’ top issue right now, and that they are able and willing to take on other issues, we have been focusing our advocacy on:
advocating for relief for nonprofit employers through unemployment insurance mechanisms (see MCN’s Unemployment Insurance Update) ensuring that policymakers understand some nonprofits’ unique situation as self-insuring employers for unemployment insurancemaking explicit that any employment-focused relief done through tax deductions and credits must be done through payroll taxes as the most significant form of taxes that nonprofits payrecommending creation of loans targeted or available equally to nonprofits (see How the COVID-19 economic stimulus bill would affect nonprofits)urging creation of emergency funds for nonprofit activities delivering essential servicesadvocating for a targeted, temporary giving incentive at the federal level that enables non-itemizers to receive a tax incentive for charitable givingstrongly urging flexibility for nonprofits as they manage state grant and contract deliverables
Temporary Waivers and Program Modifications through the MN Department of Human Services
Nonprofits who work in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) may benefit from DHS’s temporary authority to waive or modify requirements, including licensing requirements, so that it and its partners can continue to provide essential programs and services to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit DHS online for more information.
MCN’s Minnesota Budget Project and public policy teams have been strongly advocating, along with many nonprofit partners, for needed flexibility and support for the service providers who are an essential part of the caring infrastructure of our state, and applaud these initial steps forward.
Policy Action to Maintain Critical Services and Support Economic Security
The Minnesota Budget Project is working to advance policy responses that support economic security and access to critical public services, and to mitigate the impact of the economic effects as necessary action is taken to address the current public health crisis.
The Minnesota Budget Project is collaborating with a broad range of partners in the child care and early education community on advocacy for needed flexibility and financial support for these essential services. Minnesotans have sent more than 5,000 emails to their legislators through an online action alert, and we are starting to see policy movement, such as the flexibility provided by DHS described above and Governor Walz’s proposed $30 million emergency grants to child care providers.

Visit the Minnesota Budget Project’s blog, Minnesota Budget Bites, for frequent information on the latest policy action on budget, tax, and economic policy issues. Here’s what’s new since our last member update:Minnesota moderately well prepared to respond to looming recessionFederal stimulus plans should include everyone facing hardship
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Last week, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes several provisions to support individuals, families, employers, and communities impacted by the health and economic ramifications of COVID-19. The Minnesota Budget Project has written a blog that explains some of the components of the Families First Coronavirus Response bill including:Emergency paid sick leave.Emergency family and medical leave, which expands the workers who can take paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.Unemployment Insurance (UI) expansion, which would both increase funding for UI and support improvements.Food and nutrition supports.Medicaid funding.These are important first steps, but they fall short of reaching all who are facing economic hardship, and providing the support that states will need to continue to provide essential services as their revenues drop with the economic slowdown. More federal policy action will be needed in the coming days, weeks, and months. In particular, future policy actions need to address the disproportionate harm to communities of color. A history of discriminatory practices in access to opportunity, education, and housing, going back to our earliest days as a nation means that people of color often have much less income and wealth than others.  
Responsive Fundraising Resources and Information
MCN has released a special edition of the Minnesota Grants Directory, focusing on state and national funding opportunities created in response to COVID-19 and disaster relief. This free edition will be updated as new information and opportunities arise. Download it now
 
MCN and the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) hosted Grantmaking in Response to Coronavirus on Monday, March 23, providing nonprofits a chance to hear from philanthropic organizations that have created funding specifically to address the pandemic, including the Otto Bremer Trust, Headwaters Foundation for Justice, The Minneapolis Foundation, and MCF’s Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund. Download the recording.
Calls with the Governor’s Office and Leadership Conference Update
MCN, in conjunction with the office of Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, is pleased to host a series of four weekly online Calls with Governor’s Office featuring updates for nonprofits on Minnesota’s response to COVID-19. The first virtual gathering, focusing on human services nonprofits, will be hosted on Monday, March 30 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Register today.
 
2020 Nonprofit Leadership Conference Cancelled
Due to uncertainty surrounding the hosting of public meetings in the coming months, MCN made the difficult decision to cancel the Nonprofit Leadership Conference this June. We look forward to convening nonprofit leaders of every experience level back to the conference in 2021, with the leadership lessons, challenges, and solutions arising from the coronavirus pandemic helping to inform the learning and relationship-building that are hallmarks of this gathering.?

With insights from the conference planning committee, MCN will bring forward a selection of proposed sessions as E-Learning opportunities this year.