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Midlands Voices: Nonprofits can help prioritize relief funds for Nebraska
Midlands Voices

Midlands Voices: Nonprofits can help prioritize relief funds for Nebraska

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Since early 2020, communities across Nebraska have been challenged by the pandemic and its impact. With more than $1.8 billion designated to the State of Nebraska by the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands — NAM, a state association that represents the more than 13,000 nonprofit organizations in Nebraska — has asked Gov. Pete Ricketts, state senators and the Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee for nonprofits to have the opportunity to provide input on the distribution and use of the funding.

All units of government that receive ARPA funds should work with local nonprofits and their communities to ensure critical programs and services are accessible to all Nebraskans.

According to a recent report by the philanthropy research group Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, more than one-third of U.S. nonprofits are in jeopardy of closing within two years as a result of the financial harm inflicted by the pandemic. When nonprofits close, the community loses services its residents need.

Much-needed resources from the ARPA are designed to help meet the needs that surfaced during the pandemic. As plans develop on how best to use these funds, it’s critical that nonprofits be part of the decision-making process to ensure that community-based organizations receive the resources needed to continue to positively impact Nebraskans who benefit from their services.

Serving as first responders to meet the urgent needs of communities throughout the pandemic, nonprofit organizations have seen firsthand the effect it has had on the lives of Nebraskans. They helped cities and towns provide urgent resources in response to escalating needs, including food insecurity and hunger; health care; safe and affordable housing; quality and affordable child care; lack of technology and internet access; and much more.

While the pandemic appears to be moving in the right direction, its impact — the resulting economic recession, and the racial and social inequities that were laid bare — will take time and resources to ensure the “Good Life.” Nonprofits have lost millions in revenue from canceled fundraising events, live performances and interrupted retail products and services.

Nonprofits throughout the state have collaborated and worked in partnership with government agencies and the business community to respond to unprecedented needs. Many Nebraskans who never needed help before were served by nonprofits during the pandemic. Even today, needs continue to rise and will continue to for years to come.

Nonprofit organizations employ 90,000 Nebraskans — one in every 11 workers in the state — and represent a significant component of the state economy. Nonprofit organizations are eligible for American Rescue Plan funding through grants to pay for services and implement strategic investments in communities to drive sustainable change.

They provide services the private sector cannot. We know that it took years for many nonprofits to recover during the great recession and know the same is true with this crisis. It is crucial that individuals and organizations from the nonprofit sector are included in the process to prioritize how funds from the ARPA are allocated to ensure Nebraskans get the services and help they need during these challenging times.

Anne Hindery is CEO of the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands.

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