The Commercial Appeal

Nonprofits hit hard by pandemic gain access to aid fund

- Chanel Stitt

A $35 million fund to help small Michigan charitable nonprofits that experience­d hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic is opening its intent to apply phase, officials announced.

The fund, called the MI Nonprofit Relief Fund, announced by the Michigan Nonprofit Associatio­n and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunit­y, will award grants between $5,000 and $25,000 to qualifying nonprofits. Nonprofits can expect to receive funds in the spring or summer this year. The fund is expected to serve between 1,800 to 4,200 nonprofits.

“These relief funds, which MNA tirelessly advocated for on behalf of Michigan nonprofits, are a lifeline for those who are most in need across the state,” Kelley Kuhn, Michigan Nonprofit Associatio­n president and CEO, said in a news release. “We will continue to advocate for nonprofits, while also ensuring that the program is consistent with federal and state requiremen­ts.”

The funding was secured by Michigan through the federal American Rescue Plan Act’s Coronaviru­s Relief Fund, the release said. In this step of the twoyear program, nonprofits are asked to fill out a form that states an intention to apply.

Kuhn said Friday, during a news conference announcing this phase, that surveys show that funding dried up for nonprofits during the pandemic. She said money raised from events is down 53% and donations from individual­s are down 46%. Kuhn also said the pandemic has been difficult for nonprofits in rural areas and those that serve Black, Indigenous and people of color communitie­s.

In addition, it was announced that a $15 million fund, called MI Nonprofit Impact, will launch in the spring. That fund aims to help larger organizati­ons that help lift people out of poverty.

Here are a few things to know before applying for the MI Nonprofit Relief Fund:

h The first step is to fill out the intent to apply form.

h The formal applicatio­n process will launch March 22.

h Nonprofits do not have to be members of the Michigan Nonprofit Associatio­n to apply.

h Organizati­ons must be based inmichigan.

h Applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or a fiscally sponsored project by a 501(c)(3).

h The amount of funds each organizati­on receives is determined by the amount requested.

h The program is designed for nonprofits that make an annual revenue of less than $1 million.

h Nonprofits must be able to show expenditur­es or losses that are a result of COVID-19 and occurred after March 2021.

h There are no restrictio­ns on how this funding can be spent.

Nonprofits can find the intent to apply form at Minonprofi­

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