Posts made in March 2020

CARES Act Introduces Forgivable Loans for Nonprofits With Paycheck Protection Program

On March 27, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. While the sweeping legislation introduces a multitude of significant measures, the Paycheck Protection Program is a lifeline for nonprofits, injecting capital when they need it most. However, the hallmark of the program is that the loans can be partially or fully forgivable, provided certain criteria are satisfied.

What Is the Paycheck Protection Program?

  • The Paycheck Protection Program, which was allocated nearly $350 billion through the CARES Act, is an extension of the existing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) Program.
  • Loan applicants may be granted up to $10 million with an interest rate not to exceed 4%.
  • The loans are nonrecourse, and collateral is not required to secure the loan.
  • The loan is forgivable if the employer maintains certain levels of full-time equivalents (FTEs) and payroll. The amount forgiven is based on a sliding scale through a compliance period.
  • Loan forgiveness under this program is non-taxable.
  • The new program waives the SBA’s “credit elsewhere” requirement, which determines whether the borrower has the ability to obtain some or all of the requested loan funds from alternative sources without causing undue hardship.

Is My Nonprofit Eligible?

  • Applies to certain nonprofits including 501(c)(3) organizations with fewer than 500 employees.

What Are the Borrower Requirements?

Borrowers must make a good faith certification to the following:

  • Uncertainty of economic circumstances makes the loan request necessary to support ongoing operations.
  • Funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or to make mortgage, rent, and utility payments.

What Is the Maximum Loan Amount I Could Receive?

  • The maximum loan amount for any recipient is $10 million.
  • Loans will be formula-driven: the average monthly payroll costs over the prior 12 months multiplied by 2.5.
    • In this calculation, payroll costs are categorized as follows:
Included
Excluded
Salary, wages, and commission Compensation for an employee that exceeds $100,000 (prorated over the covered period from Feb. 15, 2020, to June 30, 2020)
Cash tips or equivalents Compensation to an employee with a principal residence outside the U.S.
Vacation or other leave Qualified sick wages or family leave wages paid under Families First Coronavirus Response Act for which the payroll credit is permitted
Allowance for dismissal or separation Federal employment taxes including employees and employers share of FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act)
Payments for group health (insurance premiums)
Retirement benefits
Payment of state or local tax assessed on compensation

 

How Can I Use the Loan Proceeds?

The loan proceeds can be used for the following:

  • Payroll (at least 75% of the forgiven loan amount must be used for payroll)
  • Continuation of group healthcare benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave
  • Employee salaries, commissions, or similar compensation
  • Interest on mortgage obligations (but not mortgage prepayments or principal payments)
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Interest on other debt obligations that were incurred before Feb. 15, 2020

How Much of My Loan Will Be Forgiven?

Maximum Forgiveness Amount

  • Borrowers are entitled to loan forgiveness equal to the sum of the following expenses paid during the eight-week period, which begins on the loan origination date:
    • Payroll costs
    • Covered utility payments, including electric, gas, water, transportation, telephone, and internet access for which service began before Feb. 15, 2020
    • Covered rent obligation, including rent obligated under a leasing arrangement in force before Feb. 15, 2020
    • Covered mortgage interest obligation, including a mortgage on real or personal property incurred prior to Feb. 15, 2020
  • The loan forgiveness amount will not exceed the amount of the loan.

Reduction of Forgiveness Amount

  • The loan forgiveness amount will be reduced if there is a reduction in the number of FTEs. This reduction percentage is calculated at the election of the borrower by either of the following:
    • Average number of FTEs per month (over the eight-week period)
      Average number of FTEs between Feb. 15, 2019, and June 30, 2019
    • Average number of FTEs per month (over the eight-week period)
      Average number of FTEs between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb. 29, 2020
  • The loan forgiveness amount will be reduced by any reduction in total salary or wages of any employee that is in excess of 25%. This applies only to employees that received a 2019 annualized salary of less than $100,000.
  • There is a special rule for a reduction in seasonal employees.
  • Employers can mitigate – or eliminate these reductions – if they restore the number of FTEs and total salary by June 30, 2020.

Any balance remaining after the loan forgiveness would have a maturity of 2 years. The interest rate will be one percent for loans not more than $350,000; .50 percent for loans of more than $350,000 and less than $2,000,000; and .25 percent for loans of at least 2 million.  You will not have to make any payments for six months following the date of disbursement of the loan.

Loan Forgiveness Application

Documentation is critical for loan forgiveness. Here is a list of documentation that would need to be submitted to your lender:

  • Verification of FTEs and pay rates
  • Payroll tax filings
  • State income, payroll, and unemployment insurance filings
  • Documentation that covered mortgage, rent, and utility obligations were made
  • A certified statement that the amount of forgiveness was required to retain employees or meet the covered obligations

Lenders will have 60 days to render a forgiveness determination.

Need Help Getting Started?

We can work with you and your lender to see if you qualify.

Sustainability to Survivability: 5 Nonprofit Finance Must-Do’s in the Time of COVID

In the nonprofit sector, the fragility of life is always very present. Likewise, for nonprofit leaders, the fragility of our organizations is also always present. Fears of an impending recession and the decline in the percentages of individuals donating to nonprofits have made the sustainability of organizations a top concern for executive directors for quite some time. But none of us expected the sudden disruption of our lives and society brought on by a pandemic.

As nonprofit professionals scramble to devise new operating plans designed to serve as many as possible while protecting and caring for employees, the thought of sustainability seems almost quaint. All revenue streams, from foundations to individuals and even fees for service, are under extreme pressure. Indeed, for many executives, thoughts today are not on sustainability but survivability—and, as always, it is at these times our constituents need us most.

The initial steps to respond to the pandemic have varied by type of organization with the focus, rightly so, being on humanity—serving our clients—as well as safety and protection. Arts and culture organizations, educational institutions, and other community organizations have closed their doors for extended periods while several social service organizations continue to operate, balancing constituent service with social distancing. One constant across the sector has been the cancelling of spring fundraising events and the upheaval of development plans. As organizations struggle to maintain operations, payrolls, or both while revenue is decreasing, there are steps they can take to increase likelihood of success:

  • Understand your cash position.
  • Assess damage to revenue streams.
  • Look at the dual bottom line.
  • Include everyone in the discussion.
  • Communicate consistently.
Understand Your Cash Position

Cash is king. With expenses continuing and revenue on hold, knowing your cash position serves as a foundation for action. Certain common ratios like the quick ratio or current ratio calculate whether the organization has enough cash to pay its bills today, but they don’t provide guidance on how long it can weather this disruption. The best ratios for that help with understanding your liquid reserves:

This ratio calculates how many months of savings the organization has if it operates at its current rate and receives no additional income. The numerator subtracts restricted cash and receivables, assuming the organization will not be able to perform the work necessary to release those revenues. The denominator is simply the annual budgeted expenses divided by 12 months.

This is the purest form of a reserve. It allows leadership to understand how much time they have to stabilize the organization. For many organizations, this is somewhere between two weeks and four months.

For organizations that have ceased operations but are committed to maintain payroll as long as possible, a separate calculation that only includes essential expenses such as payroll, health insurance and occupancy-related costs in the denominator may be useful:

This formula lets leadership see how long their current position allows them to maintain these basic expenses. In this ratio we have excluded receivables, but they can be included if the organization believes there is a high likelihood of collecting them.

These formulas are the simplest way of calculating and monitoring the organization’s savings. A more strategic approach would be to prepare or update the organization’s cash flow projections for the next six months showing expected inflows and outflows of cash. With the ratios as a foundation and the cash flow projection as a tool, leadership can work with the board to build out scenarios if they have time. At the very least, leadership can monitor the urgency of the situation and make informed decisions about how to continue.

Assess Revenue Streams and Damage

The formulas above focus on the organization’s expense side, assuming no additional income. Attention should also be paid to revenue. Many foundations are attempting to continue grantmaking, and many local government agencies are seeking to fund expanded social service activities for vulnerable populations with emergency dollars. Therefore, revenue projections based on the updated development plans and budget, which take into consideration our new reality, can be inputted into the cash flow projection for a more realistic picture. While it is conservative to assume your organization will not receive any new income, acting on a worst-case scenario does not necessarily lead to strategic or beneficial decision-making.

Revisiting revenue streams also allows leadership the opportunity to discuss revised plans and to focus on those efforts where the organization has the strongest relationships and greatest likelihood of securing funds. For example, some special events have already moved online, with operas livestreaming performances and social service agencies holding online auctions and sending recorded messages to supporters. While less revenue has been raised, there may have also been fewer expenses. This is also the time to identify areas where board members might have relationships and could meaningfully engage in sharing the fundraising workload.

Look at the Dual Bottom Line

When cash gets tight, the financial bottom line becomes readily apparent. But in stressful times, it is important to consider both bottom lines: impact and financial. Especially if challenging decisions need to be made about where to focus, consider the impact of each program and fund the highest impact programs first. This is often a difficult discussion. Everything an organization does has value, but given the current situation in which we find ourselves, which aspect of the organization has the most value today? Are there longer-term programs or projects that could be put on hold? Could unrestricted resources and staff be transferred to those efforts with the highest impact, such as direct services? Could reducing expenditures on lower impact programs allow the organization to build cash reserves?

This is especially helpful if cuts need to be made. One common response to crisis is to implement a straight percentage cut across all activities; however, this is not the most strategic decision. Yes, it avoids conflict, but focusing on those programs where there is an intersection of organizational strength and pressing constituent need is essential. Not only does this allow the organization to most effectively have impact and accomplish its mission given the resources it has available, but it also helps make the case for increased support to funders.

The matrix map visual is a helpful way of highlighting both the impact and profitability of an organization’s programs and looking holistically at how each program of an organization contributes to its impact and financial viability. While the process of completing a detailed map can take some time, a rapid version can be created in an afternoon. Remember, the map is a representation of the business model used to inform decision-making, not a 100-percent-accurate picture. In some cases, some information is better than complete information, especially when the goal is to bring others along in the discussion and make decisions. This is one of those cases.

Include Everyone in the Discussion

Speaking of bringing others along, there are no “right” answers to these challenging questions, and ideas for sustaining the organization know no positional boundaries. Engaging everyone in these candid conversations can often surface new approaches or meaningful strategies. That said, programmatic staff may be overwhelmed and overworked responding to the crisis, and leadership will need to decide whether it is appropriate to add to their workload by bringing them into the conversation. However, our default position is that nonprofits are community organizations responding to a community challenge and they benefit from the input of close community members during these difficult times. Our desire is for everyone to have a voice.

Determining the organization’s cash position, described above, will inform how much time leadership has to meaningfully engage a broad group of people in discussion. At a minimum, however, board and senior leadership should be involved in surfacing potential solutions. Ideally these positions will be informed by staff and constituents. Especially for social service organizations, it is important that the needs of those being served are well known and represented in the discussions.

Again, the easy solution in these times is for a small group at the top of an organization’s leadership to come together and make decisions, but this group may not be as well informed about constituent needs as others. By opening the discussion, unexpected opportunities might surface. Additionally, by sharing the complexity of the decision to be made and the options to consider, leadership helps to build community and buy-in for implementation.

Communicate Consistently

Our last point may be the most important. Often, in times of crisis when leadership is busy trying to serve constituents and make informed decisions to save their organization, communication can lapse. Leaders may feel they have “nothing new” to say or they might not yet have a “path forward” or solution for the organization and therefore don’t communicate to key stakeholders. Unfortunately, while understandable, this is the wrong course of action.

Nonprofit organizations are expressions of our humanity—people coming together to build stronger, more enriching and more equitable communities. By expressing the hardship that our organizations are experiencing and the difficult choices that must be made, we invite others to participate in the process. We are all joined together in this time, living through a pandemic the likes of which none of us have ever seen.

This is especially true of donors. Helping donors understand firsthand what your constituents and the organization face allows them to support you in the most effective manner. We cannot only talk with stakeholders when things are going well. Helping everyone understand that the organization is maximizing impact and leading with its values—with the needs of our constituents and staff front-of-mind—strengthens the connection and relationship donors feel with the mission. This connection will be necessary for organizations to survive this shock and ultimately be able to thrive once again.

Time is of the Essence

None of the steps here are easy—especially in a time of crisis. Given this rapidly evolving pandemic, it is tempting to put off decision making to see how the situation progresses. One lesson from the Great Recession, however, was that those organizations that assessed their situation earlier were able to make strategic decisions which resulted in less severe measures later. Nonprofit leaders face competing demands and priorities as they deliver on their missions. By inviting others in, communicating clearly, looking at the organization holistically, and understanding where we’re starting from financially, leadership can attempt to spread the workload, build commitment, surface strategies and implement solutions to help their organizations—and our communities—survive and, once again, eventually thrive.

Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF)

The Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF) is a community fund established by founding partners Lilly Endowment Inc., Central Indiana Community Foundation (through the Glick Fund and The Indianapolis Foundation), Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and United Way of Central Indiana to support human services organizations and the individuals and families they serve who are affected directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.
United Way of Central Indiana is administering C-CERF and is bringing its substantial expertise to this effort. You can also help your neighbors in this time of uncertainty and unprecedented need by donating to this fund.

TODAY’S UPDATE – MARCH 24, 2020:

  • The Task Force of the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund announced a first wave of grants to 46 human service organizations in the six-county region today.  More than $7.3 million has been awarded from a new community economic relief fund organized to help individuals and families affected by COVID-19.
  • The first funding round, totaling $7,305,000, prioritized child care for health care workers and first responders, food access, homeless shelters, resources for seniors and immigrants, disaster planning and infrastructure support, and multi-service neighborhood centers.
  • As of today, more than $17.8 million has been donated to the Fund. 100% of all donations to the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund’s website will go directly to organizations who are serving those in need due to the pandemic.

Congratulations to these organizations for serving our communities during this crisis.   We have worked with quite a few of these organizations over the last twenty years.

Our current clients that received this funding included the following:

Flanner House of Indianapolis

Hawthorne Community Center

Horizon House

Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center

Southeast Community Services

Despite this crisis funding, we would encourage you to financially support these organizations and our clients at this time.  Individuals may donate to the fund by texting HELP2020 to 91999 or by visiting covid19cerf.org.

    FTM Firm Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    It has been a very challenging few weeks for all our clients and our communities over the last several weeks.    It seems like the only communication I have received over the last two weeks has been about the pandemic.   We just wanted to let you know that we have worked with nonprofits in crisis over the last twenty years so we are here to help when and where you need us.    Fortunately, we have been a remote CPA firm since 2017 and have capacity to help host and access your accounting software like MIP Fund Accounting and QuickBooks.   We can provide outsourced staffing to complement your existing staff or to provide staffing while a staff person is unable to work.   We can provide access to our client portal as well and have remote meeting capabilities to allow the communication to continue.  Let us work with you to ensure your essential accounting and financial services remain operable and your accounting continues.  We can  help  determine the financial impact and proper course of action going forward.  Thank you for what you do to serve our communities especially during this health crisis that has impacted everyone.  Let’s do what we can to do to help each other out during this pandemic.