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The Role of Nonprofits During a Pandemic
On Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to find the heroic helpers who are risking their own health to assist others: from doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to police officers, paramedics, and firefighters to grocery store employees, postal workers, and delivery people.
However, there are even more helpers working behind the scenes to fight against this invisible threat: nonprofit organizations. These philanthropic entities are committed to promoting social causes and furthering missions for the public good. Although these organizations often go unnoticed during a pandemic, they make a major difference for the nation’s communities during some of their darkest days.
Whether a community finds itself in the wake of a natural disaster or embroiled in a devastating pandemic, nonprofits are poised to respond with funding, volunteers, supplies, and other much-needed assistance. These unique organizations have the ability to quickly round up groups and foundations working toward a range of social issues and join forces to help out during a pandemic.
Keep reading to learn about recent nonprofit trends, the critical role these organizations play during a pandemic, and how to start a nonprofit of your own.
Nonprofit Trends in a Global Pandemic
In response to the current global pandemic, new nonprofit organizations are emerging at an unprecedented rate across the nation. From our Swyft Filings proprietary data, looking at March 2020 versus March 2019, we determined that nonprofit business formations increased by a whopping 39% as compared to other types of businesses in March 2020.
We believe it is no coincidence that this spike in nonprofit formations occurred in March 2020: the same month COVID-19 started sweeping across the United States. In our opinion, these eye-opening nonprofit trends demonstrate just how many people want to lend a hand during these extremely difficult times. For many, the best way to be a “helper” is by launching their very own nonprofit organization.
Why Nonprofits Are Important During a Pandemic
Nonprofit organizations play an essential role during a global pandemic, particularly in the nation’s most vulnerable communities. Here are just a few ways nonprofits are helping out during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Many nonprofit organizations are working in areas with high numbers of infected patients to provide critical medical supplies. These nonprofits are assisting healthcare workers with purchases of masks, gowns, gloves, and other protective equipment. Some organizations are also supporting quarantined individuals and launching hygiene promotion campaigns to limit the spread of the virus.
Feeding the Hungry
With millions of Americans out of work due to pandemic-related closures, many families cannot afford to put food on the table. Fortunately, thousands of nonprofit food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens across the nation are stepping up to feed these financially strapped citizens.
With schools and libraries across the nation shut down to prevent the spread of the virus, many children in need have no access to the Internet, books, or other educational resources. Numerous nonprofit organizations are working to donate books and other learning supplies to these disadvantaged children.
Food Delivery to the Elderly
There are thousands of isolated elderly citizens who cannot make it to the grocery store during a pandemic. Nonprofits like Meals on Wheels check in on these vulnerable seniors and deliver nutritious meals to them when needed.
Financial Assitance for Restaurant Workers
Some nonprofit organizations are focusing their efforts on donating funds to restaurant owners and employees. Because many of these businesses have been forced to shutter or transition to carry-out only, countless restaurant workers will remain out of work for the duration of the pandemic. These relief funds can offer support to workers facing economic hardships and allow restaurants to fill the gap until they can reopen.
Our nation’s current economic crisis isn’t just impacting humans—it is also affecting our four-legged friends. Under mandatory closures, animal shelters across the country are bursting at the seams with homeless pets that need care, food, foster homes, and help finding their forever families. To make matters worse, some unemployed Americans are giving up their pets to help control their household costs. Luckily, there are many nonprofit rescue groups who are working to assist animal shelters and find homes for pets during these trying times.
Now is the Time to Start a Nonprofit
As individuals, businesses, and communities across the U.S. are struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis, our nation needs nonprofit organizations more than ever. If you have ever considered starting a nonprofit, now is the time to put those plans in motion.
There are countless advantages to starting a nonprofit. Because these organizations are dedicated to serving the public good, nonprofits that qualify as public charities under the Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) are eligible for exemption from federal corporate income tax. Generally, when an organization is exempt from federal taxes, it will also be exempt from similar state and local taxes.
Nonprofits also enjoy legal benefits. When a nonprofit is incorporated, its directors, officers, and members receive protection from personal liability for the organization’s legal obligations.
Additionally, nonprofits can receive grants from public and private organizations as well as donations from individuals. In 2018 alone, American citizens, bequests, foundations, and corporations gave an estimated $427.7 billion to U.S. charities.
In response to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, the U.S. government is offering additional support for nonprofits. The $2.2 trillion economic rescue package President Trump signed in March includes encouragement for Americans to donate to nonprofit organizations. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will allow taxpayers to deduct up to $300 in charitable donations from their taxable income in 2020.
The CARES Act temporarily creates what’s known as a “universal charitable deduction,” also called an “above-the-line” deduction for donations. In other words, taxpayers can easily claim the deduction of charitable donations on their tax forms without having to go through the extra step of itemizing it.
How to Start a Nonprofit
If you’re wondering how to start a nonprofit, we have all the answers. The process and cost of starting a nonprofit varies depending on the state where you form the organization. While some states have relatively simple guidelines for nonprofits, others impose stricter regulations on these organizations.
However, in most states, you can form a nonprofit in eight steps:
- Identify your nonprofit’s purpose
- Choose a name
- Create bylaws
- Elect a registered agent
- Appoint your leaders
- File articles of incorporation
- Apply for tax exemptions
- Obtain required licenses and permits
Visit our nonprofit learning center for more details about each of these steps.
Ready to Be Helper? Start a Nonprofit Today!
If you’re ready to start a nonprofit but aren’t sure where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Whether you want to start a nonprofit to assist with current pandemic or support any other social issue, don’t go at it alone. Turn to the experts at Swyft Filings!
When you work with us, starting a nonprofit is a snap. Thanks to our user-friendly online filing process, you can start your nonprofit in as little as 10 minutes. Our professionals will prepare and file all required documents in any state of your choice.
Ready to make a difference?