Special and Urgent Needs (SUN)

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

The Special and Urgent Needs grant program prioritizes funding for organizations serving basic human needs within their communities (social services, food access, housing, and or health-related services). 

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 an unexpected roof repair resulting from a fallen tree at a social service provider or the mitigation of a water supply that has been deemed unusable in a food shelf. SUN, however, cannot fund repair or replacement to a roof that has been leaking for several months and/or years.
  • Replacement of essential equipment and technology whose sudden and unexpected failure interferes with the provision of services. An example would be 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.
  • Programming that helps organizations support staff and/or volunteer mental health and wellbeing in times of extraordinary need. This may include, but is not limited to, a traumatic event or disruption within the organization, a period of high turnover, and/or unusual stress or demands on staff. Examples of activities for funding might include a staff outing or retreat, facilitated teambuilding or dialogue, grief counseling, or therapeutic yoga or art programming.
  • 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, such as a roof that has been leaking for several months and/or years;
  • deferred technology upgrades, like a computer or other piece of technology that is no longer working or failing to work but is well beyond its projected life span;
  • construction project overruns, including surprise costs that are revealed during renovation projects/once projects are underway;
  • capital campaigns;
  • religious purposes;
  • individuals;
  • debts; 
  • 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

Organizations must be located in or serve the people of Vermont, and serve basic human needs (social services, food, shelter, health). The program will prioritize applicants with operating budgets of $500,000 or less.

All applicants to programs at the Vermont Community Foundation must meet these guidelines.

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 

Grants of up to $5,000 are typically awarded from this fund. 

Deadline 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

All applications must be submitted electronically. Visit our Online Grants Center page to learn how and to register for a new account. Or click here to access your existing account.

Beginning in 2023, organizations interested in applying to the Nonprofit Capacity Building or Special and Urgent Needs grant programs will complete the Nonprofit Development & Support application. To help you prepare, click here to view or download the application questions. Please note that this is a PDF sample and not the actual application. To view and begin working on the application, login to the Online Grants Manager (OGM), which can be accessed at www.vermontcf.org/OGM.