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Rural synagogues and Jewish non-profits should apply for PPP loans before June 30

The last three months have challenged America’s synagogues and religious non-profits as the coronavirus closed doors and changed the traditional mediums of ministry. While your teams navigated unknown waters, the U.S. Small Business Administration stepped up to offer a lifeline. Through the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – which includes eligibility for faith-based groups – the SBA delivered support to America’s religious organizations through one of the largest economic recovery efforts in our nation’s history. To date, the agency has approved more than half a trillion dollars in PPP loans for millions of small businesses and faith groups and saved tens of millions of jobs. More help is available, too. Small businesses, non-profits, and faith institutions are able to apply for the PPP through June 30.

Here are four reasons non-profit organizations should consider applying for a PPP loan:

The PPP can help you retain your staff and continue ministering to your community.

The PPP offers small businesses and 501(c)(3) non-profits payroll assistance to help alleviate the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and keep employees on payroll. If organizations use 60% of the loan on payroll costs, the loan is eligible to be forgiven – it does not have to be paid back. The other 40% of the loan can be used for debt obligations, including mortgage interest, rent payment, or utility payment. By keeping your staff on payroll, you are equipping your synagogue or non-profit to continue ministering to your community in new and innovative ways.

Taking a loan through the PPP does not limit your religious freedoms or autonomy.

For many faith leaders, the question of religious freedom is of utmost concern when considering the inclusion of faith-based organizations in federal assistance programs. The good news is that receiving a PPP loan does not limit the authority of religious organizations to define the standards, responsibilities, or duties of membership. It does not limit your hiring freedoms, and it does not impact your First Amendment rights. Simply put, a faith-based organization that receives a loan will retain its independence, autonomy, and right of expression.

New rule changes give you more time to use your loan.

After hearing from industry leaders, Congress passed, and SBA implemented, an extension of the timeframe to use a PPP loan from 8 weeks to 24 weeks. Businesses and organizations also have until December 31 to rehire previously laid-off employees and can qualify for some flexibility in rehiring as well. This flexibility is especially helpful if your doors are still closed due to the coronavirus lockdown and will allow you to use the loan and qualify for full forgiveness.

The success of your ministry matters to your community.

Over the years, numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact strong faith institutions have on a town’s economy, social health, and overall community wellbeing. This is especially true in rural America. As our nation recovers from the challenges of the last few months, your ministry has an opportunity to amplify your mission and support the people you serve. The PPP is here to help keep your team intact and assist your organization during this financially challenging time.

To learn more about the PPP and resources available, visit sba.gov/ppp.

Dan Nordberg is the SBA Director of Rural Affairs, and Marcus Harris is the SBA Director of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

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