The last three months have challenged America’s churches and nonprofits as the coronavirus closed sanctuaries and changed the traditional media of ministry. While your teams navigated unknown waters, the U.S. Small Business Administration stepped up to offer a lifeline.
Through the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — which includes eligibility for faith-based groups — the SBA delivered support to America’s religious organizations through one of the largest economic recovery efforts in our nation’s history.
To date, the agency has approved more than $500 billion in PPP loans for millions of small businesses and faith groups and saved tens of millions of jobs. More help is available, too. Small businesses, nonprofits and faith institutions are able to apply for the PPP through June 30.
Here are four reasons nonprofit organizations should consider applying for a PPP loan:
1. The PPP can help you retain your staff and continue ministering to your community. The PPP offers small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofits payroll assistance to help alleviate the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and keep employees on payroll.
If organizations use 60% of the loan on payroll costs, the loan is eligible to be forgiven — it does not have to be paid back. The other 40% of the loan can be used for debt obligations, including mortgage interest, rent payment or utility payment.
By keeping your staff on payroll, you are equipping your church or nonprofit to continue ministering to your community in new and innovative ways.
2. Taking a loan through the PPP does not limit your religious freedoms or autonomy. For many faith leaders, the question of religious freedom is of utmost concern when considering the inclusion of churches in federal assistance programs.
The good news is that receiving a PPP loan does not limit the authority of religious organizations to define the standards, responsibilities or duties of membership. It does not limit your hiring freedoms, and it does not impact your First Amendment rights.
Simply put, a faith-based organization that receives a loan will retain its independence, autonomy and right of expression.
3. New rule changes give you more time to use your loan. After hearing from industry leaders, Congress passed, and SBA implemented, an extension of the time frame to use a PPP loan from eight to 24 weeks. Businesses and organizations also have until Dec. 31 to rehire previously laid-off employees and can qualify for some flexibility in rehiring as well.
This flexibility is especially helpful if your doors are still closed due to the coronavirus lockdown and will allow you to use the loan and qualify for full forgiveness.
4. The success of your ministry matters to your community. Over the years, numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact strong churches have on a town’s economy, social health and overall community well-being. This is especially true in rural America.
As our nation recovers from the challenges of the last few months, your ministry has an opportunity to amplify your mission and support the people you serve. The PPP is here to help keep your team intact and assist your organization during this financially challenging time.
To learn more about the PPP and resources available for your church or nonprofit, visit sba.gov/ppp.
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