How the CARES Act, December’s Stimulus Package, and the American Rescue Plan Act Provide Relief for the Social Good Community and Businesses in the U.S. – Updated as of March 30, 2021

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law. This $1.9 trillion bill provides program and funding assistance helpful to nonprofit organizations and others in the social good community including funding for the following –

  • $2.75B to “non-public” schools serving students from low-income families.
  • $40B for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund providing funding for colleges and high education institutions. At least 50% of this funding must go towards emergency financial aid for students. The remaining funds can be used by the institutions to defray lost revenue and the costs of decreased enrollment, transition to online learning, COVID-19 testing, and the purchase of PPE.
  • $200M in funding for Institute of Museum and Library Services for libraries
  • $270M in funding, $135M each, for National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities to support arts and cultural organizations
  • $53.5B for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, testing, and tracing and $7.6B for community health centers
  • $22B in rental assistance and $10B to assist homeowners in avoiding foreclosure. It also includes $5B to assist with utility bills, such as heating, cooling, and water costs
  • $5B in funding to assist communities with providing support for individuals and families experiencing homelessness
  • $1B for Corporate for National and Community Service which includes funding for additional AmeriCorps positions
  • Extends the 15% increase in SNAP benefits through September 30, 2021 to assist families and individuals coping with food insecurity
  • $7.2B in broadband funding to assist with remote learning for public K-12 students
  • $350B in aid for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments


The American Rescue Plan Act builds on the CARES Act and December's Omnibus Appropriations bill, which included $900B in COVID relief, which were enacted on March 27, 2020 and December 27, 2020 respectively.

As this and other legislation related to COVID-19 relief for the social good community evolves, we will do our best to continue bringing you valuable updates.

Below you will find information on the assistance available for social good organizations and small-to-mid-sized businesses as employers. This information was compiled from various sources, including FAQs drafted by the Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Independent Sector, and National Council of Nonprofits. Independent Sector and National Council of Nonprofits are tracking developments around COVID-19 relief and providing updates. You can check out their websites, subscribe to their updates, and involve yourself in the conversation to stay up to date.

Blackbaud provides this information as a service to its customers for educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Readers should seek such advice from their own professional advisers.


  • Incentives for Charitable Giving by Individuals and Corporations

    Universal Charitable Deduction extended through December 31, 2021

    The universal charitable deduction has been extended through December 31, 2021. This deduction allows taxpayers who do not currently itemize their deductions to claim a charitable deduction for cash donations up to $300. In 2020, the $300 cap applied to individuals and married couples equally, i.e., a married couple would not be able to take a $600 deduction. However, for 2021 the cap for those filing jointly has been increased to $600. Donations to donor advised funds and supporting organizations are not eligible for this deduction.

    Adjusted Gross Income Charitable Deduction Caps Suspended or Increased through December 31, 2021

    The adjusted gross income (AGI) limits on charitable donations are suspended or increased for cash gifts made by individuals and corporations through December 31, 2021. The 50% AGI cap for individual taxpayers who itemize has been suspended. Taxpayers who itemize are eligible to take charitable deductions for donations up to 100% of their AGI. The AGI cap for corporations has been increased from 10% to 25% for corporate tax years. Donations to private foundations and donor advised funds are not eligible for the increase or suspension of AGI limits.

  • Emergency Loans for Nonprofit Organizations and Small and Midsized Businesses

    Economic Injury Disaster Loan 7(b) Program

    The Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing $70B in low-interest disaster loans to assist small businesses and nonprofit organizations with 500 employees or less through its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Per the EIDL application, nonprofit organizations seem to be more broadly defined than for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) outlined below.

    The EIDL program provides nonprofit organizations and small businesses, who were in operation before January 31, 2020, with working capital loans of up to $2M. However, we learned on May 7 that the SBA is capping loans for this program at $150K and only accepting applications for agricultural businesses at this time. Interest rates for small businesses are capped at 3.75% and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations. Those interested in applying for this loan program can do so directly through the SBA. Funds can be used for payroll costs, materials, rent, account payables, mortgage or other debt payments. Applications for this program will be accepted through December 31, 2020.

    $20B was appropriated for advance EIDL grants. The CARES Act expanded the EIDL program to include an advance of $10,000 against the loan within three days of applying. If the loan application is eventually denied, the $10,000 grant does not have to be repaid. It also waives the personal guarantee up to $200,000 and the requirement to demonstrate the inability to obtain credit elsewhere.

    Small businesses and nonprofits in low-income communities are eligible to receive $10,000 grants. Any entities in low-income communities that received an EIDL Advance grant previously and did not receive the full amount in a previous round are eligible to receive the full $10,000 if their grant award was lower. Organizations eligible for these Targeted EIDL Advances will be contacted by the SBA. EIDL Advances provided for in the CARES Act are no longer available.

    The American Rescue Plan Act appropriated $15B in new funding for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan grants providing flexible grant relief.

    Paycheck Protection Program Emergency 7(a) Relief Loans 

    The American Rescue Plan Act appropriated an additional $7B for the Paycheck Protection Program, which resumed on January 11, 2021, and has a new deadline of May 31, 2021. PPP, originally enacted through The CARES Act, provides forgivable loans for nonprofit organizations and other entities. Small businesses, 501(c)(19) veteran organizations, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including religious organizations, and 501(c)6 organizations, to include Chambers of Commerce and tourism organizations, with 500 or fewer employees are eligible for this program. The American Rescue Plan Act added 501(c)5 organizations and organizations with more than one location as along as there are no more than 500 employees who work at a single location to those eligible to receive a PPP loan.

    Other criteria include having been in existence on or before February 15, 2020 and having paid employees.

    Some entities will also be eligible for a second forgivable loan. Eligibility requirements for these second loans include:

    • Having 300 or fewer employees
    • Can demonstrate a loss of 25% in gross receipts in any quarter in 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019

    Borrowers are to work with financial institutions with whom they have relationships to access this loan program. Along with existing SBA 7(a) lenders, federally insured credit unions, federally insured depository institutions, and Farm Credit System institutions are eligible to participate in PPP. The SBA is providing incentives to commercial lenders to participate in this program by guaranteeing these loans at 100%. Please contact your local lender to see if it is participating in this program.

    The SBA has provided application forms for first and second time borrowers. The SBA has provided an overview for each loan – first and second – as well as an updated FAQ for borrowers and lenders.

    First time borrowers can apply for up to $10M or 2.5X (250%) of their average monthly payroll, whichever is less. Second time borrowers are capped at $2M.

    The PPP loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment (PPE) expenses (due to likely high subscription, at least 60% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Payroll costs include – employee salaries, hourly wages, paid sick or medical leave, and group health insurance premiums. Loan forgiveness will not be applied to compensation paid to any employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,000. Although borrowers can use this loan for other business expenses, the portion of the loan not used for approved expenses will not be forgiven.

    Borrowers will work with their lenders to certify how the loan was used and determine the amount of the loan to be forgiven. Borrowers will not have to pay interest on any portion of the loan that is forgiven. Any portion of the loan that is not forgiven is subject to the loan terms agreed to by the borrower and the lender. The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act extended the loan terms to a minimum of 5 years. Loan forgiveness will also be based on borrowers maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages, decrease.

    The SBA has revised the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and instructions. There are three loan forgiveness applications, a standard form, an EZ format, and Spanish language version. The SBA has posted a number of additional resources for PPP under Lender Forms and Guidance. It has also posted an FAQ covering PPP loan forgiveness. Loan forgiveness for those entities receiving $150,000 or less will be simplified through the December 2020 legislation.

    No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge any fees. Funding through this program will be awarded on a first come, first served basis.

    The SBA has issued more detailed guidance with regards to the relationship between EIDL and PPP loans. If borrowers received an EIDL related to COVID-19 between January 31, 2020, and April 3, 2020, the date Paycheck Protection Program loans became available, borrowers must refinance the EIDL into the PPP loan if the borrower used the EIDL for payroll expenses. A borrower may also refinance an EIDL into a PPP loan if the borrower used the funds for expenses other than payroll. Again, the receipt of the EIDL must have been between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020. In this instance, borrowers are not required to refinance the EIDL. Remaining portions of the EIDL, for purposes other than those laid out in loan PPP forgiveness terms for a PPP loan, would remain a loan. If borrowers took advantage of an emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000, that amount would be subtracted from the amount forgiven under the PPP. Please note: If a borrower received an EIDL loan and did not use it for payroll costs, the borrower may be able to take out an EIDL loan and a PPP loan. Borrowers are not able to refinance an EIDL into a PPP loan if the EIDL was received before January 31, 2020 or after April 3, 2020.

    The SBA updates its FAQ and guidance regularly. 

    Shuttered Venue Operators Grants

    $16.25B has been appropriated for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants program. The SBA has launched the application portal for these grants and it is expected to accept applications beginning on April 8, 2021. A few items to note –   

    • Cultural institutions and other entities eligible for SVO grants can also apply for PPP loans. Please keep in mind that limits will most likely be placed on combined assistance from the PPP and SVO Grants programs
    • Sets aside funding specifically for entities with 10 or fewer employees and those located in distressed areas

    Applicants eligible for the SVO grants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with a maximum amount of $10M. Organizations eligible for grants include –

    • Theatrical producers
    • Live performing arts organization operators
    • Relevant museum operators, zoos, and aquariums meeting specific criteria

    While the SBA is not yet accepting applications, here are additional criteria, an application processing schedule, and a FAQ. Additional criteria include –

    • Must have been in operation as of February 29, 2020 and must not have received a PPP loan on or after December 27, 2020
    • Organizations in operation before January 1, 2019 can receive grants in the amount equal to their 2019 gross earned revenue or $10M, whichever is less
    • Organizations in operation after January 1, 2019 can receive grants for the average monthly gross revenue for each month in operation during 2019 multiplied by six or $10M, whichever is less

    Funds can be used for payroll costs, rent and utility payments, scheduled mortgage payments, operating leases in effect as of February 15, 2020, and other expenses found here. Grants cannot be used to buy real estate, make investments or loans, make contributions or payments to political entities.

    Please review all criteria to determine your organization’s eligibility. Current guidance suggests that organizations must have fixed seating in order to be eligible for this grant. Other forms of seating such as temporary, convertible, non-fixed, removable, or modular would disqualify an organization from receiving this grant if the organization does not also have fixed seating.

  • Additional Assistance Available for Nonprofit Organizations and Businesses

    Employee Retention Tax Credit

    The Employee Retention Tax Credit, created through the CARES Act has been extended and expanded. The Employee Retention Tax Credit now provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 70% of wages paid, increased from 50%, by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers (1) that were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order, or (2) where gross receipts declined by more than 20%, decreased from 50%, when compared to the same quarter in the prior year.

    The total wages attributed to an employee have increased from $10,000 per year to $10,000 per quarter, including health benefits. Eligible wages include -

    • For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to COVID-19 
    • For employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business or subject to a shut-down order

    This retention credit applies to wages paid after March 12, 2020, through December 31, 2021. Please Note: Entities receiving the Employee Retention Credit are now eligible for loan forgiveness for PPP loans, providing that wages were not paid with the forgiven PPP loan, or payroll tax deferral. This change is retroactive to March 27, 2020. For additional information, please refer to this FAQ provided by the IRS. The IRS has published a number of COVID-19 related resources along with information on the Employee Retention Credit.

    Deferral of Employer Payroll Taxes – Ended on December 31, 2020

    All employers can delay the payment of employer Social Security taxes, 6.2% on employee wages, for wages accrued between March 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020. 50% of employer payroll taxes are due by December 31, 2021. The remaining 50% of the employer’s portion of the 2020 payroll tax is due December 31, 2022. Please note: Entities receiving loan forgiveness for PPP loans are now eligible to participate in the deferral of employee payroll taxes due to the passage of the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act. Entities participating in Employee Retention Credits are still not eligible for payroll tax deferral. The IRS has released additional guidance through this FAQ.

  • Additional U.S. Resources
  • International Resources

    Although the above information is focused on relief through the CARES Act for nonprofit organizations and businesses in the United States, governments around the world are also providing relief to the social good sector. For more information on specific regions, please visit:

    • For social good organizations based in Canada, Imagine Canada is providing updates on government relief measures available to charities and nonprofits, resources for Canadian fundraisers, and additional COVID-19 information.  You can find Imagine Canada’s COVID-19 resources page here.
    • For resources related to the United Kingdom, visit our hub here.
    • Stay tuned for more resources to come. If you would like information for other regions, please visit National information resources for the public on COVID-19