IRE has taken several steps in recent weeks to deal with financial fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In early March, IRE decided to postpone all in-person workshops, data bootcamps and newsroom training. In addition, IRE has delayed its annual conference from June to late August. Those actions produced a projected deficit of $260,000 in IRE’s budget for the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30. Before the pandemic, IRE was on course to finish the fiscal year with a surplus.
Because of fiscal uncertainty that may continue for a year or longer, the Executive Committee of the IRE Board of Directors authorized participation in the Paycheck Protection Program. The program is designed for small businesses and nonprofits affected by the pandemic.
Through the program, IRE this week received a two-year loan of $233,453 from Commerce Bank in Columbia, Missouri, at an interest rate of 1 percent. The program carries no fees or prepayment penalties. The program, operated through the Small Business Administration, is designed to avoid layoffs and furloughs by reimbursing payroll costs for eight weeks. The loan amount is set by a mandated formula.
If, as planned, IRE maintains full-time staff levels through June 30, an estimated $187,000 of the loan will be forgiven. The remainder of the operating deficit will be covered by IRE reserve funds, which total $635,000.
“The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented disruption to IRE’s operations, including significant financial fallout,” IRE Executive Director Doug Haddix said. “As we navigate uncertainty that may continue into 2021, the Paycheck Protection Program has given IRE critical financial support.”
In response to financial uncertainty, IRE also has eliminated one part-time contract position, reduced hours in a second contract position and put plans on hold to hire a part-time financial assistant.
IRE also has been in discussions with funders about potential sponsorships of new and expanded digital offerings: the new webinar series, expanded NICAR-Learn collection of short video tutorials, and planned expansion of NICAR Courses for college educators and students.
“We know that our members are facing financial pressures, too, so we’re making the webinar series and NICAR-Learn video tutorials free for anyone for a full year,” said IRE Board President Cheryl W. Thompson. “These resources are available now to all journalists, professors and students -- not just IRE members. We hope they bring value during these turbulent times.”