ASAE Applauds Congress for Addressing 501c6 Needs. ‘Imperfect’ Deal Will Require Further Relief in Next Congress, Leaders Say

December 21, 2020

WASHINGTON— Following months of sustained advocacy from ASAE and many other associations, Congress is on the verge of passing year-end legislation later today that finally expands eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include 501(c)(6) organizations that meet certain qualifying conditions.

ASAE applauds lawmakers for recognizing the extreme financial hardships endured this year by associations and other 501(c)(6) organizations as a result of COVID-19, and thanks its legions of grassroots advocates who shared their own organizations’ struggles with their elected officials to increase awareness and support for much-needed federal relief. In addition to numerous other provisions, the roughly $900 billion bill includes $325 billion in small business relief, including $257 billion for the PPP, and expands PPP access to include 501(c)(6) organizations with 300 or fewer employees; 15% or less in lobbying activities and receipts; and less than $1 million in spending for lobbying activities. As this legislation came together, ASAE was in regular contact with key congressional offices to improve emerging bill text that included employee and lobbying caps for 501(c)(6) entities, and remains hopeful that Congress will expand PPP eligibility conditions further in the 117th Congress. The $1 million restriction is particularly problematic for many associations and something ASAE opposed vigorously.

“ASAE recognizes that this legislation came together only as a result of bipartisan compromise and congressional leaders were forced to accept a deal both parties described as imperfect to produce emergency relief measures for a nation in acute crisis,” said ASAE President and CEO Susan Robertson, CAE. “We’re thankful Congress has recognized that associations are deserving of access to federal relief programs like the PPP. This year-end relief package qualifies as progress. However, there are many deserving associations that will find themselves still unable to qualify for PPP loans as a result of the conditions set in this bill. No legitimate, well-purposed association should be left in the cold simply because they exercise their First Amendment rights to advocate on behalf of the industries or professions they represent.”

ASAE will continue to push for legislative solutions in the next Congress that will assist associations in their recovery from the pandemic and protect them from future disruptive events. Top legislative priorities for ASAE in 2021 include passage of the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA), which would help protect associations and others from business interruption losses resulting from future pandemics or public health emergencies, and the Investing in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which would expand the use of “529” education savings accounts to cover the costs of professional certification and credentialing programs provided by associations. 

ASAE will also work with the new Congress and administration to further educate policymakers and their staff about the vital role associations play in society.

“The months-long advocacy push this year to obtain COVID-19 relief for associations has resulted in a better understanding and appreciation for what associations do, not just on behalf of their members but for communities worldwide,” Robertson said. “Through The Power of A and other messaging, ASAE will continue to expand awareness in Congress and the incoming Biden administration about associations and their essential purpose.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Vest, CAE, 202-626-2798,


About ASAE

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