Right now, mutual aid networks have been crucial to people feeling taken care of during the pandemic. But what's the difference between a fund and a micro grant? And if you want to help, how can you find the best match for what you're able to give?
Here are seven common forms of mutual aid right now, as well as how you can participate:
Funds and Grants Built from Donations
Funds like Freelancers Union's Freelancers Relief Fund pool donations and give away larger cash gifts (in this case, up to $1,000) to people based on their needs. Those in need usually fill out a form or questionnaire so that the organization can assess how much money to give them.
How to help: You can search the "Mutual Aid" tab of the Freelance Mutual Aid Circle to find funds or grants to donate to.
Neighborhood Mutual Aid Groups
Never talked to your neighbors? Want to help someone get groceries but don't know how to find them? Many communities are forming Google Docs or Facebook groups to meet people, ask for help, or organize larger services like mask deliveries to hospitals.
Local Businesses Fundraising for Hospitals
If you have limited money to give right now, one great option is donating to a local restaurant that's providing meals for hospitals. Your money not only directly helps medical workers, it also supports small businesses that are likely financially suffering right now.
How to help: Look for a list of restaurants currently accepting donations and providing these services (here's one for NYC.) Neighborhood groups may also post information on which local businesses are currently donating goods and asking for money.
Micro Grant Spreadsheets
Unlike formal fundraising efforts, micro grant spreadsheets are more about directly giving away smaller amounts of money or goods based on whoever needs it and how much you can give at the moment. It can be anything from Venmoing someone $20 to buying them diapers from an Amazon wishlist.
How to help: You can look over a resource such as the COVID-19 Freelance Solidarity Project or Leveler.info (which are updated frequently), or comb through the Freelance Mutual Aid Circle's "Mutual Aid" tab for more options.
Pay-What-You-Can Services and Webinars
Despite also being financially impacted by COVID-19, many professionals are offering virtual classes, seminars, or one-on-one mentoring for free or pay-what-you-can admission.
How to help: We're looking for peer mentors for webinars, so if you're interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like to watch a webinar, there are plenty to choose from in the “Virtual Events” tab of the Freelance Mutual Aid Circle.
Virtual Community Service
Just because you're at home doesn't mean your volunteer options are limited. You can do everything from provide free transcription services to libraries to help run social media accounts for charities. The great part too is you can use these as an opportunity to gain new skills to put on a resume.
How to help: The LA Times has a great section on community service opportunities here, and sites like VolunteerMatch also provide plenty of remote volunteer gigs.
Online Groups and Listservs
Groups such as the Freelance Mutual Aid Circle Google Group or Study Hall give people a chance to sign up and offer support on a given topic. Even something as simple as answering someone's question about unemployment insurance can be a huge help down the line.
How to help: Join one of these groups and keep an eye out for topics you have some expertise in. You can also send out an email offering specific services or advice if anything comes to mind.
[Photo: Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema]