There Is A Plan B: Mutual Aid and Fundraising
When a crisis unfolds, we fall back on the community for support and solidarity. As humanity is going through various crises at a time, mutual aid within communities ensures care and accountability. The global citizens have stood up throughout the pandemic to ensure that the worsening pandemic does not ravage communities. Nevertheless, mutual aid and fundraising are not as easy. (Mutual Aid and crowdfunding are different but overlap.)
Dean Spade defines mutual aid as a tool to meet “each other’s needs based on shared commitments to dignity, care, and justice.” While we crowdfund, we need to hold our systems accountable too.
In the past years, fundraising platforms have emerged out of the sheer need for a place that assists and caters to crowdfunding needs. Milaap.org, Ketto.org, ImpactGuru and others have been popular platforms for online crowd fundraising. During the second covid-19 wave in India, celebrities launched fundraisers to fill the gap left by the crumbling healthcare system. Filling the bucket to a relatively small level, they urged their fan base to pitch in with their dwindling incomes. Owing to sizable social capital, fundraisers reached their goals in no time.
On the contrary, people without the resources and social capital are still running from pillar to post to fund their treatment, education, livelihoods, etc. Even if marginalised communities seek crowdfunding, the platforms do not make it easier to raise funds. The platforms mentioned above ask for a platform fee/donation ranging from 0 to 15% (or more) of the donations. In 2020, the platforms slashed the mandatory fee to make the platform more accessible. Here is the catch: the donation to the platform is not compulsory, but the default interface chooses a 15% donation to the platform.
It can be changed, right? Yes. But it gives an option to donate 8-15% of the amount and gives an ‘other’ option. Simple, opt for ‘other’ and choose to provide a lesser or no amount to the platform (not everyone can donate greater amounts).
It is rather COMPLICATED. After opting out for a 0% fee, the platform still asks to deduct about 5% of the donation made and divert it to the platform. By this time, donors who want to support the cause bolt out due to this technical set-up. Often, archaic policies and social stigma obstruct the pathway to mutual aid and care. People are shamed for raising funds for education. The platform’s policies do not let people raise funds for seeking legal abortion services.
Here’s the thing, mutual aid is for everyone. It is “not charity, but solidarity.” Various personal fundraisers do not depend on the monetary help of corporates that seek tax benefits. Instead, people often rely on free, non-hierarchical, autonomous community support ranging from financial support to small services.
I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people.
~ Eduardo Galeano
Making Crowdfunding Easier!
Mediums such as Milaap.org and Ketto.org are helpful, but new ways have to be thought of if it drives crucial resources away from people, new ways have to be thought of. Here is a helpful tool created by genius Friends at There Is No Earth B.
Keeping the issues of platform fee tech set-up and funds withdrawal hassle, the UPI Magic Link Generator creates a shareable link that would prompt people to open their app with all the details keyed in. The tool removes the need to open the UPI apps and key in the ID or scan the QR code.
Here is a step-by-step tutorial on making the most out of the tool.
Step 1: Access the UPI Magic Link Generator
Step 2: Add key details - UPI ID and Display Name. Click on Generate Link
Step 3: Copy the Link or Share it with others
AND it is done!
The world is indeed wide and we all depend upon each other. Few things to remember when you indulge in mutual aid (BESTIE, AS YOU SHOULD! - if you can):
- Build fruitful relations with people and get them involved.
Start pod mapping, read here: https://batjc.wordpress.com/resources/pods-and-pod-mapping-worksheet/
- Everything counts. Use your skills, resources and privilege to contribute
- Learn and unlearn. We are entangled in strings; we can move towards a better world with time and learning.
- Avoid overwork and take care of yourself.