Useful Apps for Mutual Aid Societies
Below is a video on an overview of some of the useful apps and websites for running mutual aid societies.
Slack is a platform that utilizes “channels” to sort conversations between groups of people. Slack is easier to manage than email chains because conversations can be organized by their subject type. Slack can be especially helpful for Mutual Aid societies because it is essentially online pod-mapping; a Mutual Aid society can have different channels dedicated to different causes, or different needs within the same common cause. Users are also able to directly message each other.
Slack is also useful for its notification system. Volunteers can opt-in to receive push notifications on their desktop, phone, or smartwatch, which makes the process of gathering people in a short time period much more efficient than email or phone chains. Slack will also send an email to volunteers who have not opted to receive push notifications.
WhatsApp is a messaging application that allows users to send messages over wifi. Mutual Aid societies find that WhatsApp is helpful because of the following features:
- Large groups:
- WhatsApp allows users to create groups of up to 256 people at once. For most Mutual Aid societies, this is more than enough.
- Document sharing:
- similar to Slack, documents and files can be shared over WhatsApp, which allows 100mb per document.
- WhatsApp allows users to take their messages on the computer, which is convenient for Mutual Aid members who are more familiar with computers than they are with mobile apps.
If you were in school or at work in 2020, you were likely introduced to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or some other video messaging software as a means of communication during quarantine.
Zoom and other video messaging options offer an alternative to physical meetings and can be helpful for mutual aid societies. Often, people must work at their day jobs in addition to their role in mutual aid societies, so Zoom and other applications can provide a non-cost restrictive option that allows a pod-map of mutual aid members to meet without breaking the budget.
Zoom is free to use for smaller groups, and relatively inexpensive for larger groups.
Airtable is a website that makes operating a business approachable for those who are intimidated by the prospect of operating a business.
With several features such as expense tracking, inventory, and applicant tracking, Airtable brings all aspects of business into one user-friendly platform. As a bonus, Airtable is compatible with Slack, and has options to link the two applications so that spreadsheets, schedules, and other business aspects created on Airtable can be shared with your mutual aid contacts on Slack.
Airtable has a nonprofit tab for mutual aid societies that choose to become nonprofits – see our FAQ for more on becoming a nonprofit.
Google is a well-known web search engine, but there are several applications within Google that can be useful to mutual aid societies:
- Google Documents allows multiple users to view and/or edit documents simultaneously, so teamwork can be accomplished remotely.
- Google Sheets operates as an online spreadsheet where a mutual aid society can keep track of inventory, volunteers, and projects.
- Additional apps like Google Calendar, and GMail are commonly used in business or office environments. The apps all work together, making it easy to navigate between them.
Mutual Aid Hub
Mutual Aid Hub is an excellent resource for finding mutual aid societies and resources throughout the United States. You can even limit your mutual aid search by narrowing the search specifically for “food resources” or mutual aid “networks.” The website also has practical information on starting your mutual aid society.
Visit Mutual Aid Hub's website
Mutual Aid 101 Tool Kit
The Mutual Aid 101 Tool Kit was created by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and is a great resource that explains the difference between charity and mutual aid societies, as well as providing advice on pod mapping and starting your own mutual aid society.
View the tool kit.
New York State Covid-19 Mutual Aid Resources (NY Renews)
Many websites may be localized by state and therefore it can be beneficial to look into resources that specifically apply to your state. NY Renews provides information on mutual aid societies in specific New York regions.
Visit NY Renews' website
Article - Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and survival" by Dean Spade
Read the article (PDF)
More Information on Pod Mapping
View more information on how to start a pod in your neighborhood
View additional information on pod mapping for Mutual Aid