Earlier today the CSCNS sent a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil requesting his attention to the unique needs of nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations across the province as we deal with the rapidly changing, and very challenging context presented by COVID-19. Highlights of this letter are below, as well as the full version of the letter.
As the situation continues to unfold and our priorities shift we want to create a space for dialogue to ensure our ongoing communications with Government reflect your needs, and to co-create responses and solutions to our shared and emerging reality.
Key recommendations included in this letter:
"On behalf of the nonprofit and voluntary sector, we are calling on your government to implement the following steps to assist nonprofit and voluntary organizations address the impacts of COVID 19:
- Speak to the needs of all three sectors: business, government, and non-profit in all your public statements so we hear your commitment to the sector in all communications and planning. (We note that approximately 30% of nonprofits are social enterprises or have social enterprise programs and that these entrepreneurial activities contribute approximately 11% of the average funding sources of Nova Scotia nonprofits.)
- Communicate with each organization your government funds. Let them know as soon as possible their annual funding allocation for the coming fiscal year to allow budgets to be set and financial contingencies identified. Announcements of multi-year finding would support even more robust planning.
- Create emergency funding provisions (one-time funding or loans) for nonprofit and voluntary organizations facing a critical funding crisis or bankruptcy.
- Alter funding reporting deadlines and expectations as required for nonprofits who now facing fiscal year end reporting requirements (2019-2020). These deadlines are challenging for those also trying to balance anxieties in their personal lives along with existential challenges for their organizations.
- Clearly communicate flexibility measures to assist nonprofits that receive funding directly from government for fiscal 2020-2021 as they manage their transfer payment agreements and provincially funded program requirements. This could include allowing funds to be moved between budget categories, postponement of administrative deadlines, such as reporting, and recognition that program outcomes may shift.
- Include nonprofit voices at leadership tables when discussing impact of COVID 19.
We will continue to share what we are hearing from non-profit leaders and will work with your government to determine the best vehicle for continued two-way communications. We are reaching out to non-profit and voluntary sector leaders to learn more about the specific challenges the pandemic is creating and the special needs they have for support. We are receiving calls for business continuance support tools and new funding, or lending, from well-known nonprofits facing existential threats. We are hearing about organizations with program-based funding who are planning to lay off all their staff. We expect to hear about other challenges, for example, the inability to get audits done, hold AGMs and do reports to the registry of stocks in a timely fashion."
We look forward to this important conversation with you and our next steps together as we navigate these uncertain times.
We will send updates on how to join the conversation next week.
Stay Safe & Well.
*Revision note: A previous version of this post included the incorrect spelling for the Premier's surname. This has been corrected. - CSCNS