To help hard-hit nonprofits, first fix existing relief programs, Rice expert says

Nonprofits are struggling to survive during the pandemic’s economic downturn. But before Congress appropriates more relief money to help them out, a Rice University expert says lawmakers should first fix what’s holding up federal funds they’ve already allocated for everything from museums to universities to food banks.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) can help nonprofits with loans, grants and tax-related assistance. But some of those loan programs aren’t even operating yet and only a fraction of grant funds have been distributed, according to a new brief by  Joyce Beebe, a fellow in the Center for Public Finance at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

“The most pressing issue is to expedite the distribution of program funds already authorized under the FFCRA and the CARES Act,” she wrote.

Beebe argues those programs should be fully utilized before more nonprofit assistance is authorized in a new relief package, such as the Senate’s proposed Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act.

“Many government entities are tasked with issuing new regulations and distributing enormous amounts of aid in a short time. Balancing the urgency of delivering funds to recipients and adhering to regulations is not easy,” Beebe wrote. “When the discussion of the next relief package is underway, it would be diligent to first implement or modify existing programs to see how the effects play out before creating new programs that generate more backlog.”

About Avery Ruxer Franklin

Avery is a media relations specialist in the Office of Public Affairs.