The pandemic has devastated many businesses, both large and small. At the same time, there is another sector of our economy that is crucial to our quality of life and is experiencing drastic reductions in revenue — the nonprofit sector.

Civic leaders and policymakers need to give equal attention to this vital part of our communities.

Nonprofit charitable organizations provide essential services that support disadvantaged and unemployed individuals and families. One need only see a photograph of long lines at a food distribution site to know that demand for these services has increased during the pandemic.

The Pittsburgh Foundation and its partners recently released the results of a survey of Pennsylvania nonprofits. The survey received responses from 800 nonprofits or about 2% of the total number in the state. For those who responded, revenue fell by $612 million as a result of COVID-19, and they had $95 million of additional operating costs, for a total impact of $707 million.

If those figures were extrapolated to the whole sector, the impact would be well up in the billions of dollars.

Federal support through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act assisted some nonprofits to maintain their programs. They were eligible for loans through the Payroll Protection Program, and some of those loans may be forgiven and become grants. However, many expenses at the organizations were not eligible for direct support from this source.

Pennsylvania still has $1.3 billion of CARES Act funding that has not been allocated. As they resume work after the election, state legislators should support bills that would set aside a significant portion of those existing funds for the nonprofit sector. The funds would go to community-based organizations that provide child care, health services, protection from domestic violence, food distribution, career training and help for people to manage disabilities.

The nonprofit sector not only provides essential services, but it also employs 16% of the state’s workforce. For a range of reasons, Pennsylvanians cannot afford to see it fail.

— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

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