Frequently Asked Questions

How does Lutheran Disaster Response work?

Lutheran Disaster Response is the ELCA’s ministry to provide short- and long-term recovery when disasters strike in the United States and around the world. Lutheran Disaster Response works closely with ELCA synods, global companion churches, Lutheran social ministry organizations — including Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Lutheran World Relief — and ecumenical partners to develop responses that address local needs. Lutheran Disaster Response awards grants to partners, giving them the flexibility to address the needs of impacted communities. It also provides technical assistance, training opportunities and accompaniment through the relief and recovery stages. Additionally, Lutheran Disaster Response works with communities in disaster preparedness, mitigation and resilience.

Lutheran Disaster Response abides by the principles of accompaniment, walking together in a solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality. Every disaster is local, and local communities and organizations are best-equipped to address needs following a disaster.

What disasters is Lutheran Disaster Response currently responding to?

Our homepage lists some of the disasters to which we are currently responding. There are ongoing disasters that don’t get much news coverage, such as migration in Central and South America, refugee resettlement in Asia and smaller floods throughout the Midwest.

How much of my gift goes toward a response?

When a gift is designated to a specific disaster, 100% of it goes toward helping survivors and communities. For example, if you give $50 to “U.S. Tornadoes,” all $50 will go toward support for people impacted by tornadoes.

The general “Where Needed Most” fund helps Lutheran Disaster Response react immediately to disasters whenever and wherever they occur. It also allows Lutheran Disaster Response to address disasters that don’t fall under any of the designations — such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The Better Business Bureau recommends that nonprofits spend less than 35% of their budget on overhead expenses; Lutheran Disaster Response is proud to report that less than 10% of its general fund is used for operations.

What is the best way for me to get involved?

The best way to get involved with Lutheran Disaster Response is through financial support. Money gives our implementing partners the flexibility they require to address local needs as they accompany disaster survivors. Every disaster is different. Following a disaster, communities are overloaded with physical resources, such as water, food and quilts. Managing so many physical resources is challenging, especially immediately after a disaster, when communities have limited capacity. Lutheran Disaster Response does not coordinate volunteers; that responsibility lies with our local partners. 

Are there resources I can share with my congregation?

Worship materials, bulletin inserts, impact stories and other publications can be downloaded from our resource page. Some items are available from the ELCA e-store at no cost. To stay updated on current disasters, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

How is Lutheran Disaster Response different from other humanitarian agencies?

Lutheran Disaster Response is the disaster ministry of the ELCA, carrying out the church’s model of accompaniment in deep relationship with organizations and churches throughout the United States and around the world. We stay in a community long after disaster strikes, working to make it stronger than before. Lutheran Disaster Response provides grant funding to ELCA synods, companion churches and other Lutheran organizations such as Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

How does Lutheran Disaster Response work with ELCA World Hunger?

Lutheran Disaster Response and ELCA World Hunger complement each other. ELCA World Hunger supports projects, such as climate-smart agriculture, that better prepare communities to withstand disasters. When those same communities experience a setback due to a disaster, Lutheran Disaster Response assists in both short-term relief and long-term recovery. The support from Lutheran Disaster Response strengthens the existing relationships between communities and ELCA World Hunger.

I was impacted by a disaster. How do I get help?

In the United States, Lutheran Disaster Response usually works through ELCA synods, congregations and other social ministry organizations. If you were impacted by a disaster, reach out first to your church, then to your synod or relevant social ministry organization. If necessary, your church or synod may contact Lutheran Disaster Response.


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