Philanthropy Colorado's Letter to Colorado's Congressional Delegation on Including Nonprofits in COVID-19 Response

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Philanthropy Colorado CEO Joanne Kelley sent the following email last week to members of Colorado's congressional delegation. We extend our thanks for the passage of legislation (that includes nonprofits in the most recent stimulus package) and ask that additional measures -- including an increase in the cap on a non-itemizer charitable deduction -- be included in future proposals. 

"Colorado’s nonprofits and foundations have been moving swiftly to respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on communities across the state.

As the pressure on these organizations continues to mount, we are calling on Congress to respond just as swiftly with policies that will allow our sector to continue to meet the escalating needs of Coloradans during this unprecedented crisis.

There are thousands of nonprofit organizations right now – from food banks and homeless shelters to community foundations and social service agencies serving the elderly – who are working around the clock in Colorado to deal with prevention and relief efforts.

The early results of a survey we circulated confirm charitable organizations in our state are under intense financial pressure as they face a loss of revenue from either having to curtail operations or because their costs are soaring as demand for their services spikes. Many of our foundations are responding by releasing grant funds early, allowing restricted money to be spent anywhere it is most needed, suspending reporting requirements, and digging deeper into their endowments to make emergency grants available immediately. Community foundations have coordinated various local funds to respond regionally. And Gov. Polis launched a relief fund last week with Mile High United Way and the state’s other United Ways in an effort to mobilize and consolidate the state’s philanthropic response.

But none of these measures will be enough to provide extensive and immediate financial relief for our sector, which creates 330,000 jobs and $40 billion in annual economic impact in Colorado. Volunteers, many of whom are now isolated at home, also pay a huge role in contributing to the sector's ability to function at a high level and provide for citizens. 

At a time when the economy is under siege and you are moving to stabilize losses from business shutdowns and job displacement, we urge you to enact policies that will include tax-exempt charitable nonprofit organizations of all sizes.

Specifically we ask that you:

  • Reduce restrictions on philanthropy to move resources in the face of a declining stock market and growing pandemic.  Increase charitable incentives by approving a non-itemizer charitable deduction with a cap of at least $4,000, and temporarily suspend all excise tax burdens on foundations;
  • Provide funding to help nonprofits rebuild their rapidly depleting resources;
  • Offer protection to not only medical personnel but also nonprofit providers on the frontlines directly serving vulnerable populations;
  • Include nonprofits fully in all emergency loan funds and provisions offered to businesses;
  • Direct government agencies to reduce or extend reporting requirements on federal grants.

We value our long-term partnership with you and other government officials and welcome the opportunity to provide more information as you work toward meeting the needs of Coloradans and the communities where we all live.

Thank you for all that you do." 

Joanne Kelley, CEO, Philanthropy Colorado

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