ASAE Applauds Recent Congressional Support for 501(c)(6) Inclusion in COVID-19 Small Business Loan Program

April 27, 2020

WASHINGTON— ASAE applauds recent bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to include Section 501(c)(6) trade and professional associations in the types of businesses eligible to apply for small business loans established by the recently-enacted CARES Act.

ASAE and thousands of other associations have urged Congress for weeks to provide emergency assistance for the country’s associations, which are working hard to meet the needs of America’s essential industries and professions while sapping their own diminishing resources for basic operations. Many associations that were financially solvent before the COVID-19 pandemic were forced to cancel face-to-face meetings and conventions when the coronavirus spread, and previously steady sources of revenue from membership dues, advertising, sponsorships, fundraising and job boards are all down in this struggling economy.

Congress acted last week to replenish the popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established by the CARES Act to help small businesses, sole proprietors, 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups and tribal businesses cover their payroll, rent and certain other costs. Now, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are recognizing the plight of 501(c)(6) associations and supporting their inclusion in PPP eligibility.

A bipartisan sign-on letter led by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today with 18 co-signers urging leadership to support PPP eligibility for associations.

“Organizations structured under 501(c)(6) bring the community together to help negotiate shared challenges and promote local economic development,” Cassidy said in the letter. Unfortunately, just like the small businesses they serve, many of these community leaders are now experiencing their own financial challenges. If these organizations are unable to survive, the path to recovery for our hard-hit Main Street economy will be even more difficult.”

A similar bipartisan sign-on letter led by Reps. Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and signed by 60 other House members urges House leadership to make local chambers of commerce and other 501(c)(6) associations eligible for assistance through the PPP.

In a separate April 20 letter to Senate leadership, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) has also urged Senate leaders to expand eligibility for the PPP to include other types of nonprofit groups, including 501(c)(6)s and 501(c)(4)s. Earlier in April, the entire New Jersey Congressional delegation wrote leaders in the House and Senate calling for 501(c)(5) and 501(c)(6) organizations to gain access to the PPP.

With bipartisan, bicameral support growing for 501(c)(6) relief, ASAE is hopeful that the needs of America’s vital association community will be addressed in the next COVID-19 relief package that congressional leaders are calling CARES 2. Associations are essential to the U.S. economy, providing education and professional development for America’s workforce; creating product and safety standards for everything from food packaging to new building construction; defining and advancing standards for professional certification and codes of ethics in a wide range of professional fields; and organizing community assistance programs and responding in times of greatest need, such as after natural disasters or catastrophic events such as the current pandemic.

“Just like the industries and professions they serve, associations are struggling to stay afloat during this unprecedented crisis,” said ASAE President and CEO Susan Robertson, CAE. “ASAE is so appreciative that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are recognizing the dire circumstances associations find themselves in during this pandemic. We also are thankful for the support of our many members who are trying their best to provide service to their stakeholders and have still been active in our efforts to enhance awareness of our community on Capitol Hill. The need for federal assistance for associations is real and immediate. We stand ready to assist legislators and congressional staff in whatever capacity to ensure associations have a safety net to get through this global pandemic and continue their essential work.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Precker, CAE,, 202-626-2735.

About ASAE
ASAE is celebrating 100 years of making society smarter, better and safer. The Centennial anniversary represents ASAE’s role as a leader and supporter of progress and innovation in the association industry. ASAE is a membership organization of more than 48,000 association executives and industry partners representing 7,400 organizations. Since it was established 100 years ago, its members have and continue to lead, manage, and work in or partner with organizations in more than a dozen association management disciplines, from executive management to finance to technology. With the support of the ASAE Research Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity, ASAE is the premier source of learning, knowledge, and future-oriented research for the association and nonprofit profession and provides resources, education, ideas, and advocacy to enhance the power and performance of the association and nonprofit community. Visit ASAE at