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Disaster Relief Grants for Congregations and UU Entities

Disaster Relief Grants

When disaster hits a community, people want to help. Often, that takes the form of contributing financially to organizations that they trust—organizations that they know have the relationships necessary to convert monetary donations into real-life support for the people who need it.

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) amplifies the voices and ministries of our faith, in part through supporting UU congregations and communities. As a part of our covenant, we know that if we can’t support one another in times of crisis, it is unreasonable to expect us to be able to support others outside our congregations and communities.

Disaster Relief Application

What Gets Funded

The UUA's Disaster Relief Fund awards grants to Unitarian Universalist congregations and affiliated non-profit organizations. Grants from the Disaster Relief Fund help congregations care for their buildings and the needs of their members, as well as supporting people in the community, especially those who may not be eligible for other grant programs.

Disaster Relief grants have been used for mold remediation in sanctuaries, tree removal, immediate evacuation needs, and more. In addition, the UUA understands the connection between disaster relief and justice making: it is the most vulnerable populations who suffer worst in a disaster. Disaster relief grants to our UU congregations and organizations not only help other Unitarian Universalists, they can also support on-the-ground relief efforts through existing partnerships that congregations already have. These grants encourage congregations to build coalitions to meet the needs of their communities.

In addition to support for congregation’s buildings, members, and community partners, we also increase awareness of and build good will for our faith. For instance, the St. John, Virgin Islands, fellowship applied for and received a grant which aided the private school in which they meet. This grant funded repairs needed to allow the school to open their doors to all the children of St. John at a time when no public schools were open.

Grant Guidelines

Grants are made to Unitarian Universalist congregations and affiliated non-profit organizations that are in covenant with the Unitarian Universalist Association; and are a part of a community suffering a devastating disaster, where a disaster is defined by:

  • Significant loss of life, injury or displacement; or

  • Significant impact on a congregation’s livelihood and capacity to respond; or

  • Significant impact on vulnerable populations— children, the elderly, veterans, the uninsured, and people with disabilities, for example; or

  • Heightened national media attention; or

  • FEMA declaration of a major disaster.

Grants from the Disaster Relief Fund related to the CV-19 Pandemic

The Coronavirus meets all the stated criteria of the Disaster Relief Fund as it is currently designed, if you accept the Declaration of a National Emergency as meeting the FEMA standard of declaration of a Major Disaster. The Fund requires only one of these criteria be met.  In light of the scope of this National Emergency, however, additional guidance and criteria are necessary to ensure that the impact of these grants best reflect our UU Values and a priority of needs. These criteria may adapt over time as the scope of the need and the availability of resources change.

Additional guidance and criteria for the awarding of Disaster Relief Fund Grants related to the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  1. Priority is given to grants to congregations and other related Unitarian Universalist organizations who are responding to the crisis with systemic, collaborative approaches, such aspartnering with local organizations to provide assistance in the congregation’s local community to people who are at significant risk to health and livelihood because of COVID-19.
  2. Grants should not be given, at this time, to assist congregations and other UU related institutions due to reduction in sources of income (such as reductions in pledging, rental income, etc.)
  3. Grants should not be given, at this time, to assist congregations and other UU related institutions with unplanned costs due to COVID-19, (such as maintenance, cleaning, or technology issues).
  4. Grants to support collaborative and community partnerships of a congregation should be no more than $5,000 per grant. A Congregation can request a renewal of a grant for community programs each month, with priority given to new requests. (These funding levels may shift depending on the amount of COVID-19 related donations to the Disaster Relief Fund).
  5. Grants from the Disaster Relief Fund should not be given to support Congregational Staff of Unitarian Universalist Congregations. These requests should be referred to the Living Tradition Fund.

Funding Priorities

Priority is given to immediate and intermediate disaster relief needs such as building repairs, food, water, shelter, sanitation, health care, and needs related to return to school and work. Priority is also given to support vulnerable people and communities. We welcome projects that creatively address community needs in partnership with local organizations. Please be as concrete as possible.


Grants are not made to individuals or for training. Though we recognize the need for disaster preparedness, we are not prepared to fund training initiatives at this time.

Grant Size

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the maximum grant given at one time is $50,000. Additional grant applications may be submitted after a 60-day follow-up form is completed on the initial grant.

How To Apply

Congregations and affiliated UU entities may complete a Disaster Relief Fund Grant Application online. Applications are reviewed by the Disaster Relief Fund Application Review team, which is made up of UUA staff from Congregational Life in each region and the Stewardship and Development Department.

Hurricane Matthew rips through palm trees in Haiti
Wildfire overtakes homes in California hills
Destruction seen in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew.

Disaster Relief Fund

The UUA stands with its congregations and is ready to provide assistance to help congregations and their communities recover in the aftermath of disasters.

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