Fresh New Year Brings New Policy Priorities for Delaware Nonprofits

photo of Melissa Hopkins

by Melissa Hopkins – January 19, 2022
Each January 1st, when the calendar flips over to a new year, I find myself filled with hope and excitement for new possibilities. Most of those are related to the Delaware General Assembly and the start of a new legislative session beginning in the first few weeks of January. While 2022 is still complicated with the latest COVID variant, and legislative advocacy tends to be more virtual based than sharing a cup of coffee, the year is still ripe for opportunities for Delaware nonprofits.

This beginning of this legislative session marks the continuation or year two of General Assembly 151. For those of you playing along, this means we pick up where we all left off in June 2021 with initiatives still pending – as well as policy priorities as a sector that still had not been resolved, such as contract reassessment.

As we look forward, DANA is focused on the following policy priorities for 2022:

  • Workforce Development support from the State for the nonprofit sector to include specific training and development for talent needs of nonprofits. While the focus has been on FinTech, manufacturing, and healthcare talent, our sector is experiencing unprecedented workforce shortages. This issue isn’t just in Delaware but also a crisis nationally, as noted in the report from the National Council of Nonprofits, “The Scope and Impact of Nonprofit Workforce Shortages.
  • Statewide investment in contract reassessment with all nonprofit providers because contracts’ reimbursement rates fall short of the actual cost of service and there is no avenue for nonprofits to address this issue outside formal contract amendments. The cost to serve is increasing due to increases in the minimum wage and the rise in market costs.
  • Nonprofit access to State negotiated healthcare rates given that many nonprofits are contracted vendors for the state; they should have access to state negotiated healthcare rates. In addition, this decreases the overhead costs on contracted service providers as the state is paying overhead for healthcare costs. The cost savings would be an opportunity for the state to invest in contract reassessment.
  • Increased nonprofit representation on government Boards, Commissions, Task and Working Groups to ensure the interests of the nonprofit sector are considered at all policymaking levels.

To make these priorities a reality it is critical that we unite as a nonprofit sector, understand the issues and advocate for our collective needs. DANA offers opportunities to play a critical role in the process.

To follow the flow of funds, it is critical to understand the budget, and to that end, DANA is offering our Annual Budget Review on January 31st, from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. via Zoom. Participants will get an overview of the FY23 budget priorities in the Governor’s Recommended Budget, learn more about the ARPA allocation plan in Delaware, and discover the intricacies of the Grant-in-Aid process. Members can register for that event here.

DANA’s Community of Practice for Public Policy meets every other week, and we discuss pending legislation, determine talking points, and next steps when it impacts the nonprofit sector. These meetings are working sessions and are open to any DANA member. To participate in our next Community of Practice for Public Policy please register here.

While we are very busy at the state level, there are critical updates from the federal government as it pertains to ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act.) Our partner, friend and legislative wizard, David Thompson, Vice President of Public Policy, with the National Council of Nonprofits, noted the following on ARPA and the final rule, “The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued the Final Rule for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program, enacted as a part of the American Rescue Plan, which delivers $350 billion to state, local, and Tribal governments to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The 437-page final rule updates the interim final rule published in May. Treasury fixed concerns of the nonprofit community by including reference to nonprofits everywhere reference is made to small businesses. Some governments misread the interim final rule narrowly to exclude nonprofits due to this omission. The final rule also includes nonprofit examples (e.g., food assistance to low-income families), further clarifying that nonprofits are truly eligible recipients of these funds. Accompanying Treasury’s final rule is an Overview of the Final Rule that provides a page (p. 23) dedicated to Assistance to Nonprofits. It highlights eligibility based on things like decreased revenue (e.g., from donations and fees), financial insecurity, increased costs, capacity issues, and challenges to covering operating costs. A longer version of the explanation appears in the final rule at pages 153-161.”

This regulatory adjustment allows states and municipalities to provide recovery funds to nonprofit organizations doing essential work in our communities.

Our work is critical to economic development and healthy communities in Delaware, and I am eager to continue advocating for what our state’s nonprofits need to thrive in 2022 and beyond. If you have questions or would like to discuss, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].