Updated: Answering Questions on Grant Impacts of the Coronavirus Crisis & Information on Government Resources

Updated: Answering Questions on Grant Impacts of the Coronavirus Crisis & Information on Government Resources

Posted: Friday, April 3, 2020
Source: William Penn Foundation

WPF Grantees:

As promised, we are continuing to share new updates as they relate to your grants and the ways we can support you during this time. With that in mind, below is an initial set of questions and answers to help address some of your questions based on what we know today.

In addition, we want you to know we have confidence in you. William Penn Foundation grants pay for staff, project work, and other necessary costs, but they really represent a strong statement of confidence in the organizations and individuals we support. Our grants are mostly project focused, but they are also strategic investments in leadership. We fully understand that the current Coronavirus crisis has resulted in severe and unprecedented disruptions in the grant-funded work you have undertaken to achieve our shared goals. We understand that in many cases it will be impossible to achieve all planned grant activities, deliverables, and results. We know that you care about the work and will do the best you can. Because of that, we fully intend to honor all of our funding commitments, including future payments, understanding that we all must adjust our expectations for grant deliverables and outcomes. Our number one priority is conserving your organizational and staff capacity so that you can continue to advance the important work that we all care about, now and into the future.



How can WPF help us if we are under severe financial distress?

Immediately contact your program officer to discuss the possibility of repurposing currently restricted funds to help your organization sustain its long-term staff capacity. We know many of you are facing tough decisions, including around ability to retain some staff. We are offering flexibility to repurpose current grant funds to help you address these near-term needs.

What should we do if we don’t think we can complete all of our grant-funded activities?

If Foundation-funded work that was planned for the near term is affected as a result of the Coronavirus, rest assured that we understand the need to cancel and/or reschedule certain events and meetings or adjust project deliverables while the region remains under quarantine. Given the unprecedented and rapidly evolving nature of this public health crisis, we know certain deliverables just won’t be possible for the time being. Please be in touch with your program officer to collaborate on adjusting near-term results, milestones, and activities as needed. We will look to you to suggest what you think may be possible to achieve aligned with the original intent of the grant.

What if we need more time to complete grant-funded activities?

You have our full support to adjust timelines as needed based on this unprecedented situation. Send a brief email to your program officer indicating that you believe you are unable to complete specified grant-funded activities within the Foundation-approved grant period and recommend a new grant term that you think may be reasonable based on current understanding of your circumstances. We understand that grant terms may have to be adjusted further in the future based on fuller understanding of the impact and the duration of the crisis.

Is it OK for us to use our grant funds to pay part-time staff even if events they were supposed to staff have been canceled?

Yes, you can use grant funds to pay staff who were expected to work on a project or event that has been canceled as a result of this crisis.

If I have a proposal in process, how does the Coronavirus impact projects being considered for a future board meeting?

As of now, our July board meeting will take place as scheduled and we don’t expect changes to active proposals that are under development with you and Foundation staff at this time. Our aim for future grants is to maintain expectations on RMAs and project deliverables, however we understand there is risk of extended timelines and delayed deliverables if the regional quarantine continues beyond this spring.

Are you going to move the application deadline for the July Foundation Board meeting?

As of now, the July Board meeting is expected to go on as planned, so all deadlines remain the same. As we know that organizations will have an even greater need for support this year, we do not want to delay funding decisions.

How can WPF help us transition our organization to doing more of our work remotely and online?

WPF is currently investigating potential technical assistance opportunities to support organizations that are exploring doing more of their work online. If this is an area that is of interest to you, please let your program officer know as we develop possible supports to allow new ways for organizations to work and collaborate.

Is the Foundation offering support to organizations in the region that are not tightly aligned with the Foundation’s strategies and program areas?

Yes. The Foundation’s Board of Directors took emergency action this week and approved a lead grant of $3 million to support the PHL COVID-19 Fund. The fund is a regional public-private-philanthropic effort to provide grants rapidly to organizations in Greater Philadelphia with a successful track record of serving at-risk populations – including elderly, disabled, homeless and economically disadvantaged persons – to enhance community safety nets and foster preparedness and protection.  We are encouraging others to give what they can to this fund. Donations can be made at www.PHLCovid19Fund.org.

I haven’t heard anything from my program officer since this crisis began. Should I be worried?

No. All Foundation staff are working remotely and are working very hard to respond to emerging requests, questions, and needs. If you have a specific question or request related to your Foundation-funded work, please do not hesitate to be in touch. Staff will make every effort to respond promptly and you should not hesitate to “nudge” a little bit if you don’t hear anything back after a day or two.

What questions didn’t we answer?

We hope to keep adding to the FAQ’s as new organizational issues and challenges emerge so we can share solutions and suggestions across the sectors we support; please share with your program officer the challenges you are facing and your questions. We want to hear from you! 



Can you suggest other avenues to help us secure financial support at this time?

Yes. Assistance is available at the federal, state and local level.


What resources are available at the federal level? 

Starting at the federal level, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provides economic relief and stimulus provisions that are available to 501(c)3 public charities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through three main approaches.

1. The Expanded Small Business Administration Loan Program

The CARES Act modifies and expands the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guaranty program (the Paycheck Protection Program) to provide $349 billion for small businesses and 501(c)(3) organizations with 500 or fewer employees through federally backed loans.

How can an organization apply for a loan?

Funds will be available through approved banks and other nonbank lenders. Additional information is available through the SBA website: www.sba.gov. The landing page lists numerous resources. The intent is to make these loans available as soon as possible and the application forms are on-line as of April 1(see link below).  


2. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) Program

The Act also expands and waives certain requirements for obtaining EIDL loans and an organization may request an emergency grant of up to $10,000 as an advance on the loan to be provided within three days after applying for the loan. This advance does not need to be paid back.

What may EIDL be used for?

The loan may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact: www.SBA.gov.  Any advance on the loan made as an emergency grant to the organization may be used for:

  • Paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to the direct effect of the COVID–19;
  • Maintaining payroll to retain employees during business disruptions or substantial slowdowns;
  • Rent or mortgage obligations; and
  • Obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.

What is the maximum loan amount and interest rate?

The lesser of the actual economic injury to the organization as determined by the SBA or $2MM. The interest rate is 2.75% for non-profits.


3. Relief for payroll and employment taxes

The Act helps in two significant ways: an employee retention credit and payroll tax deferrals.

What does the employee retention credit do?

The CARES Act provides eligible employers a refundable payroll tax credit against the employer’s share of Social Security payroll taxes. For each eligible quarter, the employer will receive a credit against its share of Social Security payroll taxes equal to fifty percent (50%) of the qualified wages paid to each eligible employee for that quarter. The amount of qualified wages is capped at the first $10,000 in wages paid to an eligible employee, including the value of health plan benefits, per calendar quarter. The credit can be as much as $5,000 per employee per quarter.

What payroll tax deferrals are available?

The Act allows most employers to defer payment of the 6.2% employer’s Social Security payroll tax and 1.45% Medicare tax during the remainder of 2020. The deferred payroll taxes must be paid over the following two years, with half required to be paid by 12/31/2021 and the other half by 12/31/2022.


Helpful Resources:


Are there also programs at the state level?

Yes. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware state governments offer programs. More information is available here:


Are there specific programs for Greater Philadelphia & South Jersey?

Yes. The COVID-19 Fund provides support for nonprofits in the Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey region: www.PHLCovidFund.org.

From the COVID Fund website:

The Fund will accept applications from 501(c)(3) organizations operating in Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania and Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, and Cumberland counties in New Jersey) with a successful track record of serving at-risk populations who are experiencing the negative health and economic effects of COVID-19 right now.

In this first phase, funds may be used for all activities providing direct relief to vulnerable community members disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Grants will support organizations that are currently serving populations, such as children and families who are experiencing food insecurity, seniors, people with disabilities and those who are experiencing homelessness.