United Church of Canada Mission & Service

How the United Church Responds to Emergencies

In responding to emergencies, the United Church gives priority to building the capacity of indigenous organizations to respond to local situations and enhance their emergency preparedness. We rely on expertise and reporting from global partner organizations to ensure the effective use of funds. Unlike large, specialized agencies whose primary work is emergency relief, the United Church maintains a limited capacity for emergency response, and does not usually deploy personnel to accompany or monitor a relief effort. The United Church is able to draw on or engage with several support mechanisms when responding to an emergency.

Emergency Response Fund

The United Church of Canada’s Emergency Response Fund (ERF) is used to help alleviate the effects of humanitarian crises caused by nature, humans, or a combination of both. Usually these responses are short- or intermediate-term in nature. However, the ERF is also used in support of longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. Each year the ERF is replenished with funds from the unified Mission and Service Fund (currently $130,000/year). In addition, the ERF is replenished with a percentage of “supragift” monies received. (Supragifts are donations made by United Church members or others that are above and beyond the Mission and Service Fund. They cannot be counted as Mission and Service Fund credits but are eligible for tax receipts.) Eighty-five percent of supragifts received and intended for disaster relief are deposited in the fund and allocated as designated by the donor, while 15 percent of the same supragift donations are retained and used to maintain the ERF.

Action by Churches Together (ACT)

The United Church is a member of ACT, a global consortium of faith-based agencies and churches that has substantial capacity to respond to emergencies in all parts of the world. ACT works through its various regional and country members to respond to specific emergencies. It is able to draw on a standing Rapid Response Fund and relies on extra donations from its members for major disasters.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB)

The United Church is a member of the CFGB. Primarily a food aid organization, the CFGB is able to organize substantial food aid interventions in emergency situations in the global South. Each year United Church members contribute equity to the Foodgrains Bank in the form of cash and grain produced through local growing projects. The equity is used in support of specific emergency responses.

Special Appeals

When major disasters occur, the United Church is sometimes able to issue a special fundraising appeal to its members, guided by an Emergency Response Protocol. Funds raised are usually shared directly with global partners or channeled through an ACT appeal.

Members of the United Church and the general public are encouraged to contribute to the work of ACT and the United Church’s partners by making a donation at