Bar associations across the country work tirelessly to promote equal access to justice and serve the public through critical services, including providing Free Legal Answers, managing pro bono legal services, and increasing training and resources to help advise business and individual clients facing unprecedented legal issues. Many of these programs benefit low income Americans and vulnerable populations trying to address emerging challenges, especially employment, housing, healthcare, access to benefits, and domestic violence problems that are increasing drastically as this public health crisis continues. However, numerous associations have suffered significant financial losses caused by the spread of COVID-19. They need funding to be able to continue these public service activities and are working hard to persuade Congress to give it to them in its next legislative aid package by expanding financial relief to include all 501(c)(6) trade and professional organizations.
Many bar associations are 501(c)(6) nonprofit employers which means they have no profit margins to cushion the impact of revenue declines. A reduction in revenue does not reduce profit because there is none. Instead, revenue losses require expense reductions that may force these associations to reduce staff and consequently the essential services they provide to the public. Recently cancelled conferences and events in compliance with government orders have reduced vital revenue streams for associations across the country and had a devastating effect on their ability to continue providing the same level of support to the public and to our justice system. Yet because most 501(c)(6) nonprofits organizations are ineligible for current federal COVID-19 relief, they may have to lay off employees or reduce services.
Bar associations and other 501(c)(6) organizations are urging Congress to include forgivable loans, grants, or other financial relief for them in its next legislative aid package. There is a growing level of support on Capitol Hill to do this, and elected officials have signaled that they want to hear from their constituents on the matter. If you want to help ensure Congress understands the critical public services that bar associations routinely provide and the impact they have on the people we serve, especially during this emergency, we have set up a messaging tool where you can send a letter directly to your members of Congress.
Help bar associations, chambers of commerce, and other nonprofits 501(c)(6) organizations keep doing the great work they do for our communities by sending letters to your elected officials to compel Congress to provide meaningful financial relief in its next legislative COVID-19 package. Their constituents – the people and businesses struggling through the effects of this virus -- need uninterrupted access to these services, resources and help.