More than one-third of nonprofits in the U.S. could close within the next two years as a result of the financial impact of the pandemic, according to the philanthropy research group Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy,
“You name the nonprofit and they are facing some sort of challenge, whether it is new expenses, increased need, decrease in donations,” said Rick Cohen with the National Council of Nonprofits.
Cohen pointed out some surveys already show some states have lost 10 to 15 percent of their nonprofits, resulting in more than a million nonprofit employees losing their jobs permanently.
There has been help from Congress, over the past year, to help most keep their doors open. Under the CARES Act, nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees qualified for PPP loans, and now in the latest stimulus package, those with more than 500 employees also can now get access to those funds. Additionally, Congress is extending the “Universal Charitable Deduction” in the latest stimulus measure.
“Every taxpayer is able to deduct up to the first $300 for individuals and up to $600 for joint filers that they donate to non-profits,” explained Cohen.
While the National Council of Nonprofits said the measures are helpful, it is pushing for the tax deduction on charitable donations to be extended beyond 2021 and for the amount to increase. For many charities to survive, they’ll need more than a year of increased donations and a better time period where more people can afford to give. There is bi-partisan support on a proposed bill that could make this a reality.
Nonprofits like No Limit Cafe in New Jersey are hoping and depending on that.
“We are a non-profit that employs 34 adults with intellectual disabilities,” said No Limit Cafe co-founder Stephanie Cartier.
Cartier co-founded No Limits Café with her husband, inspired by their daughter who has Down syndrome.
“Our mission is to show people what people with intellectual disabilities are capable of,” said Cartier.
The entire staff at the cafe starts every day with a dance party, and each worker is visibly excited about the work ahead. The workers prep all the food, cook, and even wait tables. Three “neuro-typical” employees and Cartier provide guidance and any assistance needed.
“I think they have such pride in their jobs, self-worth and they have learned so many new skills that make them employable at many places not just restaurants,” said Cartier. "A nonprofit like this is definitely needed.”
But keeping a nonprofit open during a pandemic has been difficult, and especially for No Limits Café, which opened two weeks before the COVID-19 shutdowns. It had to stay closed for three months, and the idea of staying closed permanently scared the entire team.
“I think if we closed, it would be awful. It would be horrible,” said Cartier.
Despite the loss in revenue, new challenges to run the nonprofit restaurant during a pandemic, and the uncertainty of donations, Cartier is determined to keep the nonprofit going. It simply means too much to all her employees. For many, this is their only opportunity for employment.
To get the cafe up and running after the three-month closure, Cartier applied for a PPP loan. All her employees were re-hired, and right around the time the PPP loan money ran out, she got a generous donation from a millionaire businessman.
“The Marcus Lemonis donation of $30,000 helped us,” said Cartier.
The Lemonis donation was used for payroll and to make hundreds of sandwiched for people who are food insecure during this pandemic. The money has since run out and now, the restaurant is relying on daily donations from patrons. They have been fortunate in that those who can give are doing so. Just last week a customer walked in and donated $500, but often customer close out their bill by adding $12, which pays for the cafe to make an additional meal for someone else who is food insecure.
Cartier said sizable donations are always welcomed, but what she hopes more people understand is that even $1 or $5 is extremely helpful and it adds up. In fact, for Cartier, those are the donations that sometimes mean the most.
She knows that when someone is giving $1 or $5, sometimes that is all they can spare, and they are choosing to go ahead and spare it. That sacrifice makes her continue her sacrifice. She runs the nonprofit without getting a paycheck for it. It is a labor of love to support those sometimes forgotten, especially in the employment space.
People with intellectual disabilities have an unemployment rate that is at least twice as high as those without disabilities.