Special and Urgent Needs

The Special and Urgent Needs (SUN) grant round helps Vermont nonprofits with unexpected expenses that impact their ability to meet their mission. A SUN grant can help an organization manage an unbudgeted, unforeseen, and time-sensitive emergency or take advantage of an unanticipated opportunity that will enhance its work.

What We Fund

We look for proposals that will allow an organization to address these types of short-term needs:

  • Emergency repairs of building structure or mechanical systems (heating/cooling, water service, etc.) whose sudden and unexpected failure interferes with the provision of services. Examples of a grant of this nature would be costs for a roof repair resulting from an extreme weather event at a social service provider or the mitigation of a water supply that has been deemed unusable in a food shelf. 
  • Replacement of essential equipment and technology whose sudden and unexpected failure interferes with the provision of services. An example would a crisis hotline phone system that fails without warning, or a stove at a homeless shelter that breaks just outside of the warranty period but well before the end of its expected life. 
  • Provision of services or acquisition of a resource that could not have been anticipated or budgeted, and without which the work of the organization would be severely hampered. An example of this type of grant is training on post-traumatic stress disorder for school guidance counselors supporting children in towns severely impacted by disaster. Another example is staffing a temporary replacement while an organization’s executive director is on emergency medical leave.

    We will also consider an unexpected and timely opportunity that significantly enhances an organization’s ability to meet its mission. For example, an unexpected opportunity to acquire a key resource at an excellent price.

What We Don't Fund

For the SUN grant round, we only fund projects that are unbudgeted, unforeseen, and time-sensitive. We do not make grants for:

  • deferred building maintenance;
  • deferred technology upgrades;
  • capital campaigns;
  • religious purposes;
  • individuals;
  • debts; or
  • past due tax return and audit preparation.

We also cannot consider applications for budget deficits or funding shortfalls; this grant round is designed to help nonprofits with unbudgeted and unexpected expenses, not to fill in for unmet revenue projections. We typically do not fund work that has already been completed.

Who May Apply

New in 2018: Organizations must be located in or serve the people of Vermont, and serve basic human needs (social services, food, shelter, health) or be aligned with our Support for Youth and Families focus area. You can review the strategic focus areas of our Opportunity Gap work in this document.

Organizations must be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or be a public agency, school, or municipality in the state of Vermont. Nonprofit organizations or community groups who do not have 501(c)(3) status may apply for grant awards if another eligible organization acts as a fiscal sponsor

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, marital or parental status, political affiliation, military service, physical or mental ability be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available (meaning any funds having a competitive application process) by the Vermont Community Foundation, and any other program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds appropriated for grants, cooperative agreements, and other assistance administered by the Foundation.

Grant applicants must employ staff and provide services without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, marital or parental status, political affiliation, military service, physical or mental ability.

How We Evaluate Your Application

The Vermont Community Foundation will consider the following criteria:

  • Grant would preserve or enhance the ability of the organization to meet its mission.
  • Well-documented community need for organization and/or project.
  • Time sensitivity of the project or program; grant would meet an immediate revenue need.
  • Community support for the project and the organization. The Foundation prefers to be the last dollars in for eligible SUN projects and may consider partial funding.
  • Financial information requested is complete and helpful to the committee in understanding your organization's financial situation, budget, and need for this grant. We are specifically evaluating the financial sustainability of the project or program and financial stability of the organization.
  • Project is not part of the annual workplan or budget or, in the case of structural emergencies, the problem could not have been averted with planned improvements over time.
  • Extent to which the grant will help the Foundation reach geographic areas throughout the state.
  • Availability of Foundation funds.

Note: By submitting your application to the Vermont Community Foundation, you give the Foundation permission to share your application with other interested funders (if any), both individuals and foundations.

Grant Size

Up to $5,000.

Deadlines and Notification

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. We encourage organizations to apply as soon as the need and a plan to address the need are identified. Decisions will be made within 20 business days of receiving the application. 

Application Process

If you have questions about whether your project qualifies, we encourage you to call 802-388-3355 ext. 222 in advance of applying. All applications must be submitted electronically via the Online Grants Manager. Visit our Online Grants Center to learn how to use the Grants Manager, including accessing your existing account or registering for the first time. The electronic application form will be available after logging in to your account. 

To help you prepare, click here to view or download the application questions. 

Apply for a Grant