Nonprofits - Understanding the American Rescue Plan

Posted By: GP McLeer Speaking Together,

In January, Together SC’s Board of Directors adopted the 2021 Advocacy Agenda. At the top of that list is “COVID-19 Relief for Nonprofits”. Since then, we’ve been monitoring the Statehouse and Congress on where exactly additional relief would come. We got our answer in March - the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

Signed into law on March 11, the ARP provided, among many other items, $350 billion for state and local governments, and also framed out some baseline priorities for use of these funds - including support for businesses and nonprofits. Since then, we have been busy diving into the legislation, monitoring how funds would be used across the state, and working towards a framework - including completing the 2021 Nonprofit Survey to measure the continued impacts of COVID-19 on our nonprofit community. 

Today, we want to bring it all into focus and call on you, local nonprofit leaders, to flex your advocacy muscles to make sure nonprofits across the state, and in your community, get the support they need.

The ARP will send over $4 billion to South Carolina - $2.5 billion to the state, and $1.8 billion split amongst every county, and every city/town. That’s right - every single county and city, over 300 of them in total. Each of these units of government (state and local) have the ability to distribute these funds to nonprofits, among many other eligible uses.

At Together SC, our focus is statewide. We are not able to present at every county and city council meeting to advocate for your local government to support their community’s nonprofits - although we wish we could. So, that means we’re relying on you - and empowering you - to advocate at the local level.

Local governments are starting to receive their funds, and many are working on their local plans already. It is a critical moment for your local nonprofits to reach out to local elected officials and make sure they are supporting nonprofits in their ARP plans. 

To help you, Together SC has put together a couple of immediate resources:

  1. An overview of the ARP funding. This includes a lot of other resources including template emails, resources from our April ARP webinar, and more.
  2. A deeper dive into exactly how the funds can be used based on the US Treasury’s full guidance issued just two weeks ago. 

Additionally, we are working on providing local governments with a set of best practices for granting to nonprofits with ARP funds through the Municipal Association of SC. Your local government should have access to this guidance in the coming days.

A lot of our resources are also going into state-level support. Legislators will return to Columbia in the Fall to allocate their $2.5 billion in ARP funding. We are currently in talks with legislative staff, legislators, and our own Advocacy Allies Leadership Team, to frame out a state-level request to ensure nonprofits everywhere in South Carolina have access to continued support. Over the summer months, be on the lookout for opportunities to support a statewide “ask” to legislators. 

Since then we have gained a clearer understanding of how the state legislature can spend the $2.5 billion available to allocate from the American Rescue Plan, with over $1.8 billion split among all 271 cities/towns and 46 counties in the state.

We want to make sure you are aware of and understand your opportunities to be part of this work and gain critical support for your mission.


ARP funds can be used for five broad eligible uses for local governments to spend:

  1.   Support public health expenditures
  2.   Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency
  3.   Replace lost public sector revenue
  4.   Provide premium pay for essential workers
  5.   Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure

Remember that this funding is for state/local governments to spend - it is not a grant program unless your state/local government creates one under one of the five uses above. 

Advocates should be reaching out to their local elected officials and encouraging them to provide local recovery funds, using the guidance from Treasury as their tool to show eligibility. Read on.

Don't forget to use the data from the Sector Survey to help local leaders understand the impact. 

Also, here are links to US Treasury Department's May 10th “Interim Final Rule” document, along with a Fact Sheet and FAQ document in relation to the State/Local ARP Funding allocations

Your Aly for Good.

GP McLeer