WHAT IS MUTUAL AID?
Mutual aid is gift giving without the expectation of an immediate return but with an expectation of a continuous relationship. It’s not charity and it's not business. It’s the oldest form of exchange on earth, one which anthropologists call generalized reciprocity and many others call anarchism. Pytor Kropotkin coined the term mutual aid in the late 19th century, but he was merely naming an act which all people are familiar with and which indigenous people and those working close to the land have been most consistently practicing.
See our Mutual Aid not Charity section of our Mission and Values
HOW CAN YOU DONATE MONEY/GOODS TO AMA?
AMA does not currently have a donation hub. If you are an organization that wishes to make a large donation of goods, that would be valuable to the unhoused community specifically, please reach out to us using the form on this site or, via social media.
AMA is not currently accepting cash donations. Please direct cash donations to one of the following organizations who are working to support our neighbors following Hurricane Ida:
Hurricane Ida Fund: Mutual Aid Disaster Relief
HOW CAN I VOLUNTEER WITH AMA?
Please complete the volunteer questionnaire on our Get Involved page.
IS AUSTIN MUTUAL AID ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR GRANTS?
AMA is currently accepting proposals for large grants at our bi-weekly community meeting. AMA will re-open the micro-granting process as soon as a new team has been assembled. Interested in helping AMA with grant efforts? Please reach out to us via the contact form or, the volunteer form available here.
DOES AMA RECEIVE ANY CITY, STATE OR FEDERAL MONEY?
No, AMA has not received any city, state or federal money.
DOES AMA WORK WITH THE CITY TO SUPPORT THOSE IN NEED?
AMA members have attended city council committee meetings to advocate for resources & support for our unhoused neighbors affected by Prop B. They’ve also requested reimbursement of expenses during the Feb 2021 storm relief effort. As it stands currently, the city has not reimbursed AMA for the $635,000+ that was spent on shelter and supplies during the storm. During the storm aid was sent to city relief sites and relief was received indirectly from the city through other organizations.
HOW CAN I GIVE AUSTIN MUTUAL AID FEEDBACK?
AMA is still very much learning how to do this work and is always grateful for the feedback we have received from the community feedback form. That form is here.
AUSTIN MUTUAL AID HAS RAISED SIGNIFICANT FUNDS. WHO IS IN CHARGE OF MANAGING THE AMA ACCOUNTS?
Since April 2021, all AMA funds have been managed with a third-party bookkeeper who manages all accounting and will be reporting/accountable to a CPA in order to ensure all accounts are managed in accordance with accounting standards and tax laws.
Prior to that, as a stop-gap solution, we had a volunteer with experience in the field managing the bookkeeping function. Their role was always meant to be temporary as a stop-gap until an appropriate resource could be assigned. Since April, that volunteer’s involvement has been supporting the transition to the new bookkeeper who fully took over all financial responsibilities June 1st, 2021.
WHAT HAS AUSTIN MUTUAL AID DONE WITH THE FUNDS RAISED SO FAR?
Aid to the houseless continues to be led by a network of groups called Camp Support, with which we are a partner. This includes many groups that have been serving the unhoused for many years, whereas we began just a little over a year ago. In addition, AMA has recently dispersed over $200K (up to $3,000 per project) to community initiatives via the community-led microgrant program. AMA continues to support the Camp Support group and other community initiatives supporting the unhoused.
AMA does not singularly make funding decisions; we use a community-driven and attended system that ensures that funding decisions are supported by a diverse group that are actively working with and therefore representing, our Austin community at large. You can see our first financial transparency report here, the second report here, the third report is available here. AMA is actively working with these groups to disperse all remaining funds raised.
HOW DOES AUSTIN MUTUAL AID PLAN TO DISTRIBUTE THE FUNDS THAT ARE REMAINING FROM FUNDRAISING DURING THE WINTER STORM?
As these funds were raised by and for the community, this is not AMA’s decision to make; it belongs to the community. AMA has engaged with the community, starting with the organizations that were integral to the delivery of services during the storm to get community buy-in as to how the funds should be divided between organizations that are supporting the core mission.
AMA has conducted a series of community meetings and are initiating programs for continued funds distribution. This will include direct aid for those currently struggling with houselessness & financial crisis as well as grants to existing, established orgs with trusted relationships in the community to continue their work offering assistance to those they serve.
A crisis has been created in Austin by the passing of Prop B, which bans camping in public places. While the City of Austin (COA) has earmarked $100 million dollars to address the unhoused issue, a plan on where people will go has not been made. We are in conversation with many to address this crisis and others, including the incredibly slow & lacking form of rent relief in Texas.