Just like that, we have arrived at the end of quite a challenging year. December turned out to be as chaotic as much of 2020 in Washington D.C. Congress scrambled to reach an agreement to fund the government, and the approval of a much needed COVID-19 relief package finally came to fruition. Here is an overview of the latest legislative issues impacting nonprofits during these challenging times:
Congress Clears Massive Spending and COVID-19 Relief Bill
After months of negotiations and several short-term continuing resolutions, both chambers of Congress each quickly passed legislation on the night of December 21 that sets federal funding for Fiscal Year 2021 and offers roughly $900 billion in COVID-19 relief. While the package was ultimately negotiated by leadership on Capitol Hill, the relief provisions were largely based on a bipartisan framework recently announced by rank-and-file Senators and Representatives. The massive 5,593-page bill contains significant victories and setbacks for the nonprofit sector.
Executive Order on Implicit Bias Training Receives Hearing
Last week, the Executive Order banning implicit bias trainings (EO 13950) came under scrutiny by a federal judge in a federal lawsuit hearing filed by six LGBT groups.
The judge expressed her view that the restrictions in the Executive Order could be applied in arbitrary and discriminatory ways and discourage speech by federal contractors and vendors even when they are not working on a government contract.
The judge did not say when she could rule on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction blocking the Executive Order but asked them to submit a filing clarifying the scope of the injunction they are seeking.
The Executive Order and the Office of Management and Budget memo which came out in September, prohibit diversity trainings for federal agencies or federal contractors that teach that the United States or any race or ethnicity is “inherently racist or evil.” It also bars federal grants from being used to fund such trainings.
Giving Tuesday Breaks Records
For the ninth annual GivingTuesday, supporters broke records during the global day of generosity. Donors gave an estimated $808 million online and $2.47 billion overall. According to The GivingTuesday Data Commons, an estimated 34.8 million people participated in Giving Tuesday 2020, a 29 percent increase over 2019.
In May, donors gave an estimated $503 million online during GivingTuesdayNow, a one-day event focused on the pandemic response. That was on track with the $511 million in online donations made during last year’s regular end-of-year giving day. GivingTuesday also included offline giving that brought 2019’s total estimate to $1.97 billion.
Initiative to Adjust Foundation Rules Released
As legislators begin to look toward 2021, philanthropist John Arnold and Boston College law professor Ray Madoff have announced a proposal containing numerous changes to laws affecting foundations and nonprofits. Dubbed the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving, the proposal has not yet resulted in a bill before Congress but would allow donors to claim an immediate charitable deduction for contributions to their donor-advised-fund accounts only if the funds are distributed to charities within 15 years.
The proposal also would prohibit private foundations from using grants to donor-advised funds to satisfy the federal requirement to pay out 5 percent of their assets each year, and it would provide a tax incentive for foundations to increase their annual payout or spend down all of their assets within 25 years.