On Tuesday 5 May we held an online session with over 50 mutual aid groups and other organisations coming together to discuss the issues they are having with funding their work. Below are some of the answers to questions that were popular among participants.
How can mutual aid groups be taken seriously by local authorities?
As recent formations, groups were concerned about being seen as credible and serious by their local authority. Basic housekeeping was recommended as a way of demonstrating that the group is aware of who is in it. Having members fill in a registration form, understanding who is DBS checked, and logging who has a car and which street people lived on and which they can provide support to were mentioned as examples of good practice.
A clear system and database through which to receive and distribute all requests amongst the volunteers is another way to log the demand for what is happening and enable easy responses.
If a group doesn’t have a relationship with the council then they are encouraged to reach out and make them aware of their work. Collaboration is possible – local councillors are known to join WhatsApp groups for example and act as a conduit for council information.
Can crowdfunding work during a period of lockdown/social distancing?
We heard from Giles from Mutual Aid Hammersmith who explained that his group had relied heavily on social media and online communication to spread the word about their campaign. Spacehive has guidance on ways in which anyone can research their local area using Facebook and Twitter as a means to connecting their project with more people.
However there is still a lot to be said for using flyers, posters and community noticeboards. Supermarkets and bus shelters were mentioned as locations to stick notices to.
The experience we are seeing at Spacehive is that campaigns right now are continuing to receive very high levels of support. If groups can deploy a range of ways to make their work known and communicate their campaign, then people will back them.
How can groups communicate with backers to explain what they are doing?
The issue of reporting was raised as for many, communicating the work they were doing and being transparent with funding was a key objective. Keeping a record on a spreadsheet of all transactions was cited as best practice. For anyone crowdfunding on Spacehive, there is an update tool which allows the project team to post messages in the form of words or image/video, and this functionality remains even after the campaign has ended. This means that groups can easily keep those who have pledged funds to them up to date.
We will be holding more of these sessions over the coming weeks as it was apparent that groups had not had the opportunity to meet like this and hear from others. If you have any suggestions for issues you would like us to cover then please get in touch at email@example.com.