A friend and grassroots organizer recently posted on Facebook that a local women’s shelter needed emergency supplies.

Several people replied that they had items to donate. My friend organized a contact-free pickup process. I went to their houses, picked up 6 bags of clothes and towels from their porches, and dropped them off at the shelter.

Though we didn’t all previously know each other, this was organized in executed in about 36 hours in the DC Mutual Aid Facebook group. All over the country Mutual Aid Networks have been organizing at the grassroots level to empower individuals to share their talents and resources to help others in their communities.

Members can assist with a range of needs, including groceries, violence interruption, household goods and technology access. The networks also create easy ways for people to participate in advocacy efforts and social movement activities in their communities. And, these networks provide direct support to individuals and communities that may have a hard time getting relief from institutions — like undocumented and unhoused residents.

For decades NCRP has advocated for philanthropy to support the kinds of organizations that bolster Mutual Aid Networks – increasing support for marginalized communities and advocacy.

Here are 3 ways that funders can be responsive to the networks:

  1. Share space and credibility
  2. Simplify your funding process
  3. Fund sabbaticals after the crisis

These networks empower individual community members across race, class and gender to better understand the systems and structures that are failing right now, and provide alternatives to them. By supporting organizations involved in Mutual Aid Networks with funding and resources, foundations and donors can lay the groundwork for leveraging their power to support movements in the long-term.

Read the full article about the importance of mutual aid networks by Jeanné Lewis at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.