financial/HR resources & Information for churches, schools and nonprofits in response to covid-19

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt on multiple levels, not least of which is financially. As gatherings have been suspended,  churches, schools and preschools transition to new modalities, regular operations are suspended and other impacts are experienced, including significant concerns about financial stability. Know that there are options and assistance - see below for information and resources.

Latest news:

WE PROVIDE MANY LINKS TO EXPERTS AND TRUSTED SOURCES FOR INFORMATION AND RESOURCES BELOW - YOU ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO MONITOR THESE SOURCES DIRECTLY FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION. This website is updated as frequently as possible but you should go directly to recommended sources for the latest and best information.

cares (CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF AND ECONOMIC SECURITY) act, Paycheck protection program, economic injury disaster loan 

CARES Act Overview

The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the largest in US history,  providing very significant assistance to churches and schools - it is highly likely you will want to apply for this. The Paycheck Protection Program portion of of the bill includes:

  • Covering your payroll costs for a couple of months

  • Covering your rent or mortgage payment for a couple of months

  • Covering your utilities for a couple of months

  • Loans can be up to 100% forgivable if your staffing levels are maintained and you spend 75% or more of the loan for payroll. Any amount determined to be non-forgivable can be repaid over a 2 year period at a 1% interest rate.

  • In addition to the Paycheck Protection Program (see below), the bill includes other resources potentially available to churches, schools and other nonprofits such as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance program and unemployment assistance to those who normally would not qualify.

The following are important links you should be checking regularly to keep up with new developments in this program:

 

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Important links:

Difficulties applying for PPP loans?

We have received several calls and emails from churches and schools informing us they have had difficulty finding a lender for these loans. THIS IS A COMMONLY OCCURRING SITUATION NATIONWIDE. Many banks are only serving existing customers or are prioritizing existing customers.

 

If your existing banking partner is not participating in this program or you are having problems applying, Forbes has published this helpful article to help you find a source: "Banks And Fintech Companies Accepting Paycheck Protection Program Loan Applications From New And Non-Bank Customers".

Per the Forbes article, US Bank is currently the only national bank that is accepting applications from new customers. Other options are included in the article that you should investigate. 

If you're having difficulties, KEEP TRYING. The $350 billion allocated for this program will go quickly, so continue looking for a lender. It is anticipated that additional money will be allocated for the program, see this article

See also this "Step-by-Step Guide to Getting CARES Act Assistance" from Pushpay and Vanderbloemen.

PPP Loan Forgiveness Information

If you have received a PPP loan, it is important to keep good records of how you are spending these funds, along with other documentation to ensure you can gain the maximum amount of loan forgiveness. See information and resources below to help you with this task:

  • Keep your PPP funds and expenses as separate as possible from your other "regular" operations. Place your PPP loan funds in a separate account, even a separate bank account if possible. This will enable you to clearly show how the funds were spent to comply with the PPP requirements.

  • Make sure you are aware of the documentation your lender will be asking you to provide to determine loan forgiveness.

  • It is recommended you begin to do the loan forgiveness calculations now to gain an advance view on what will be required and how your financial picture looks. This is especially the case if you anticipate staffing or pay rate changes over the 8 weeks you are using the PPP funds. See below for some resources and spreadsheets to help with those calculations.

  • Keep connected with your lender on the information they will require you to submit, especially if they haven't provided that to you yet.

  • If you determine that you will have to reduce your staffing levels or furlough employees, it is important to determine how that will negatively affect your loan forgiveness. Determine the amount that would potentially not be forgivable, and set that amount aside so you are able to give that amount back as necessary.

Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act passed, makes forgiveness qualification easier, provides more time to spend PPP proceeds

The Senate passed HR 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, on June 4, 2020, and was signed into law by the President on June 5, 2020. This bill makes a number of changes that could impact when and how organizations spend PPP loan funds.

 

See information from Concordia Plans on this important update.

Additional information from National Law Review.

Guidance from Treasury regarding PPP forgiveness and good faith certification

There has been some angst regarding what the SBA will require to substantiate the good faith certification of need for the funds borrowers made upon the PPP application. The Treasury Department has released guidance that says "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." See FAQ #46 in this document.

This guidance makes clear that the good faith certification made by borrowers that they truly needed the funds and did not have access to other sources of liquidity will be accepted by the SBA without additional review.

PPP Forgiveness Information and tools:

 

Church Law & Tax resources:

American Institute of CPAs resources:

 

SBA resources and interim final rules:

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance

SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to Coronavirus

From the SBA: "In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. Small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)."

This program can be combined with a PPP loan - applying for one does not make you ineligible to apply for another.

Unemployment Assistance

The CARES Act also includes assistance for those typically not eligible for state unemployment assistance, see below.

Governance and procedures for approval by your church, school or nonprofit

Bylaws typically require a two week announcement before a voters’ meeting where your congregation or other constituency would approve taking out a loan. But since gatherings are not feasible at this time, and since there are significant time constraints related to applying for these funds, the following is suggested:

  • A pastor and a elected lay leader should take action on applying for PPP funding quickly.

  • Constituencies should be given the opportunity to ratify these actions later.

  • If the constituency does not ratify, the funds should be returned.

See also Church Law & Tax's webinar on-demand "Making Sure Your Virtual Church Meeting is Legally Valid"

 
 
 
 

FFCRA (FAMILIES FIRST coronavirus response act) 

This Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act was passed and signed into law on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and is set to take effect by April 2, 2020 (15 days after enactment). The Act amends the Family and Medical Family Leave Act (FMLA) by providing FMLA Public Health Emergency Leave and provides Public Health Emergency Paid Sick Leave to employees for certain coronavirus, or COVID-19, related reasons.  The final version of the law narrows the reasons (as compared to what had been passed by the House) an employee may take Public Health Emergency FMLA leave and places caps on the amount of paid leave available under the Emergency FMLA Leave and Paid Sick Leave.

 

FMLA Public Health Emergency Leave and Emergency Paid Sick Leave will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.  The benefits granted by the Act appear to apply to employees prospectively upon the effective day of the Act.

Church Law & Tax's "How New FMLA Changes Will Affect Churches During the Coronavirus Outbreak" article provides extensive information.

Also see Church Law & Tax's "Your Church Can Be Reimbursed for Mandated Sick Leave Pay".

 

An in-depth analysis of the Act is available from SHRM.

 

SHRM also provides this article: Many Employers Must Offer Paid Leave Under Coronavirus Relief Law

 

Concordia Plan Services has published analysis and guidance for ministries on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This analysis includes information on the following elements of the act:

  • Paid Sick Leave

  • Paid Family and Medical Leave

  • Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave 

  • Unemployment Insurance

  • Health Coverage

 

The law firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore has provided guidance for California employers related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

FFCRA flowchart available here.

California employers: COVID-19 scenarios and benefits available.

Treasury, IRS and Labor announce plan to implement Coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits for small and midsize businesses to swiftly recover the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave (03/23/2020)

CA Employment Development Department FAQs: Disability, Paid Family Leave, Unemployment Insurance, Employer Information (03/16/2020)

California Guidance on Coronavirus and Employee Leave and Pay - CA Labor Commissioner's Office (03/13/2020)

 

fema/small business administration disaster loans

Small Business Administration Disaster Loans

Low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) are available. The SBA states, "Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster's impact."

 

The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship. These loans also feature a grace period of several months or more before repayment needs to begin.

 

Learn more at the following links:

unemployment compensation

Unemployment benefits for church/school workers and staff

Major disaster declarations have been declared for California,  Arizona and Nevada, in fact for all 50 states and Puerto Rico. An important aspect of this declaration is that previously ineligible church and school workers who become unemployed may now be eligible for unemployment compensation Disaster Unemployment Assistance. 

 

FEMA states, "The purpose of Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is to provide unemployment benefits and re-employment services to individuals who have become unemployed as a result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular State unemployment insurance."

 

Learn more at the following links:

 

In addition, the CARES Act implemented unemployment benefits that may apply to those who were previously ineligible. The following is from Church Law & Tax's "What the CARES Act Means for Churches and Church Staff."

Unemployment insurance provisions of the CARES Act
The Act creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020, to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.

 

  • Key point. The application of this provision to church employees is unclear. State and federal laws exempt from unemployment taxes “service performed in the employ of a church, a convention or association of churches, or an organization that is oper­ated primarily for religious purposes and that is operated, supervised, controlled, or principally supported by a church or convention or association of churches.” Does the CARES Act’s temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program apply to church employees on the ground that they “are not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits”? A recent US Department of Labor “Unemployment Insurance Program Letter” (No. 1-20) suggests that it may. It reads, in part:

    The CARES Act was designed to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways. The CARES Act includes a provision of temporary benefits for individuals who have exhausted their entitlement to regular unemployment compensation as well as coverage for individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation . . . . These individuals may include . . . clergy and those working for religious organizations who are not covered by regular unemployment compensation, and other workers who may not be covered by the regular unemployment compensation program under some state laws.

 

Check with your state unemployment office to see if you qualify.

 

  • The Act provides payment to states to reimburse nonprofits for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020, to pay unemployment benefits.

  • The Act provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.

  • The Act provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020, to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment benefits are no longer available.

  • The Act provides funding to support “short-time compensation” programs, where employers reduce employee hours instead of laying off workers and the employees with reduced hours receive a pro-rated unemployment benefit. This provision would pay 100 percent of the costs they incur in providing this short-time compensation through December 31, 2020.

 
 

online giving resources

If you have not currently implemented an online giving platform (i.e. text-to-give, PayPal, etc.), this can be an extremely important technology to adopt at this time. It makes it easy for people to continue their stewardship and for your ministries to continue being funded.

 

GiveCloud from Lutheran Federal Credit Union - a comprehensive online giving solution

5 of the Best Church Online Giving Platforms

Online giving for congregations from Vanco

Church Giving Tools from Kindrid

Giving by check, cash

  • Communicate with your congregation to continue their stewardship as best they can.

  • Ask congregants who do not want to use online giving options to drop off offerings at your office or mail them.

 

lcef, psd & other financial resources

LCEF Resources

If you have a loan with Lutheran Church Extension Fund and have financial concerns at this time please contact Tyler Fewins, LCEF Vice President for the PSD.

 

PSD Resources

In addition to LCEF resources mentioned above, limited emergency assistance may be available from PSD for congregations and schools experiencing a financial emergency due to the pandemic. Contact Jon Niederbrach for further information. 

The Pacific Southwest District is partnering with LCMS Office of National Mission, the Lutheran Church Extension Fund and a multitude of generous donors to support our church workers by providing Soldiers of the Cross (SOC)—Amplified grants to individuals who are experiencing financial hardships due to the COVID‐19 pandemic. For this “amplified” version of the longstanding SOC program, the definition of “church workers” has been expanded to include not only rostered church workers (DCEs, DCOs, educators, pastors, deaconesses, etc.), but also lay workers (teacher assistants, secretaries, maintenance, etc.) who are currently working for an LCMS entity or who recently worked for an LCMS entity and were furloughed due to the pandemic. See more information here on the Soldiers of the Cross program.

Other Resources Information

City of Los Angeles Residents: Emergency Financial Assistance Available from FamilySource Centers (04/06/2020)

Concordia Plan Services COVID-19 Information, with FAQs for ministries on paying benefits bills and more (03/18/2020)

 
 

handling renters of your facilities/property during the covid-19 crisis

Many churches rent a portion or their entire property to different types of tenants. You may have questions regarding how to deal with these situations as your tenants may be experiencing lessened ability to pay rents, have had to close, reduce operations. etc. The following guidance was provided by Foundry Commercial, the PSDs real estate management partner.

  1. Due to this fluidity, Landlords cannot commit to any long term changes in lease agreements that permanently change the rent structure. 

  2. If you Tenants feel their situation warrants a temporary change in rent, Tenants should provide the following to you as the Landlord.

  • Description of how the Covid-19 virus is impacting their organization.  Please include all efforts to date to minimize impact such as staffing changes, reduced hours, etc.

  • Description of  how the Tenant is adapting their organization to the changing environment to find alternate revenue sources or ways to reach customers

  • What is their path and recovery timeline based on information to date

  • The specific rent relief being requested

  • Detailed Income statement for the YE 2019 and YTD 2020

  • Prior 2 years Tax returns for both the Tenant entity and any guarantors

  • Current Financial Statement of the Tenant entity and any Guarantors

  • # of current operating locations

 

You will need to pick and choose from this list to reflect your Tenants, as applicable.

Also see this document providing additional guidance for landlords from Foundry Commercial.

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