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How the Biden administration could affect the nonprofit sector

By December 7, 2020January 4th, 2021No Comments

The departure of the Trump administration is near, and nonprofit organizations are looking to President-Elect Joe Biden to prioritize COVID-19 stimulus funds for charities and enact legislation that prioritizes the social, environmental, and economic causes they advocate for. 

Indeed, many nonprofit leaders are eager to work alongside the Biden administration and are holding onto hope that his administration will distribute federal resources to nonprofits, revitalize the Paycheck Protection Program, and expand universal charitable deductions to promote philanthropic giving.

But a likely divided government means that the power of Biden’s presidency is limited, and it’s still unclear exactly how the nonprofit sector will fare in the next four years. Here’s what nonprofit leaders want from the Biden administration, and what we can expect in the coming weeks. 

Biden’s legislative reach will likely be limited, but there is hope for bipartisan COVID-19 relief 

Barring Democrats flipping seats in Georgia’s senate runoff, congressional gridlock is all but guaranteed to prevent the Biden administration from impacting any major policy issues.

But in the immediate future, there is a growing bipartisan consensus that more robust COVID-19 relief measures are imminent. 

In a letter to congressional leaders and President-Elect Biden endorsed by more than 4,000 charitable organizations, the Council of Nonprofits identified relief measures that they say have received bipartisan support. The measures include: 

  1. Extending and expanding the Paycheck Protection Program
  2. Enacting and expanding grant and funding programs to help nonprofits retain employees
  3. Providing low-cost loans to mid-size and larger nonprofits which have been shut off from federal funding
  4. Strengthening charitable giving incentives by expanding the giving incentives enacted in the CARES act 
  5. Providing full unemployment benefit reimbursement 

Additionally, Biden transition advisory board member Felicia Wong says that Republican members of congress might be incentivized to pass relief measures now that the election is over. 

In November, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he supported Congress passing a new stimulus package before the end of the year instead of January, as he previously stated.

“I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year,”  McConnell said in a news conference on Wednesday. “I think now that the election’s over, the need is there and we need to sit down and work this out.”

Biden is facing a large wishlist from nonprofit organizations

Nonprofit organizations working in immigration, civil rights and environmental advocacy sprung into action under the Trump administration in response to a slew of policies that counteracted their missions. Now, these groups are hopeful that the Biden administration will take action to support their struggling causes.

Biden advisors have identified “four crises” that Biden will prioritize from the beginning of his administration — climate change, the pandemic, the economy, and racial justice. He has committed to joining the Paris climate accord on his first day in office, and advocates will push for him to roll back harmful environmental policies and strict restrictions on immigration.  

In Chicago, housing advocates have called for the administration to prioritize housing assistance for renters and a relief program for housing providers, Audra Wilson, president of Chicago’s Shriver Center on Poverty Law, told the Chicago Tribune that the federal government needs to focus relief on the interests of tenants and landlords alike. 

“Our biggest concern right now is that we’re heading for a huge housing crisis that’s characterized by possibly even higher eviction rates than we saw during the Great Recession,” Wilson said. “The federal government needs to act more like an insurer and pick up the slack because, by definition, there’s no market solution here.”

And in New York, immigration groups have praised Biden’s victory while calling for relief packages and federal action to quell the damage from COVID-19 and draconian immigration policies. 

If Biden’s tax plan fails, nonprofit organizations could benefit from increased charitable giving incentives 

Biden’s proposed tax plan would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and limit charitable deductions. But if a gridlocked federal government prevents the passage of the bill, the charitable giving deductions incentive will remain intact.

“If the charitable community was only looking out for its own self-interest, I think it would view the Biden tax plan not passing as a positive,”  Ken Kies, a long-time Washington lobbyist told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. 


Lia Tabackman is a freelance journalist, copywriter, and social media strategist based in Richmond, Virginia. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, CBS 6 News, the Los Angeles Times, and Arlington Magazine, among others.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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