Tori O’Campo
Editor-in-Chief

Social media has proven to be an effective way to spread awareness of social issues. According to a study by Pew Research Center in 2016, two of the top three hashtags related to social issues dealt with race — #Ferguson being the most used and #BlackLivesMatter being the third most used. In fact, the common use of “Black Lives Matter” gained popularity from a viral 2013 Facebook post by organizer Alicia Garza. The phrase became even more prevalent this summer as the BLM movement gained more attention in the wake of George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s deaths. While many peacefully took to the streets throughout the summer and into fall, others were restricted in joining protests due to health threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, social media became more relevant than ever before in terms of supporting a widespread movement.

Whittier College alumni — class of 2019 — and co-founder of the Friday Fundraising Collective, Grace Reeder, is one of the individuals who was inspired to take action on social media. On Juneteenth, she decided to use her Instagram story to collect donations for Black Women’s Blueprint — a New York-based organization which provides a mobile van equipped with a healing space and sexual assault resources for Black women. “I was a part of the VIP club during my time [at Whittier College], so working with sexual assault stuff is really important to me, as well as I really liked that it catered to Black women specifically,” said Reeder.

To make donations easy and accessible for her followers, she used a poll that allowed viewers of her story to choose “$1” or “$5” donations, which Reeder then would request from them on Venmo. By making the donation process easy for her followers, Reeder was able to collect $500 of donations on Juneteenth alone. “It was absolutely baffling to me because it was so easy to do,” she said. “I literally just posted, I requested the money, and all of a sudden I had $500 [in] my Venmo account.” While reflecting on how quickly she was able to raise money through her Instagram account, she realized there was more potential to this model that could make a significant difference.

Chiara Gero, a friend of Reeder’s, saw the Instagram story posts and decided that she wanted to join in, too. After successfully posting the same structure on their stories the next Friday, the two decided that this was something they could keep up every week. “We can use our Instagram platforms for good, and it is just such an easy way to donate to orgs in need,” said Reeder. From then on, they decided to stick to donating to organizations that have a smaller following and are in more need of large donations.

As the two of them continued to post each week, a handful of their friends and followers took interest in the Collective. “I wanted to join because I saw it as a great opportunity to give back to communities and organizations run by BIPOC, and as a way to turn my words into action,” said WC alumni, class of 2019, Keanu Reus, on what inspired him to join the Collective. Soon, there were thousands of dollars coming in each week, and enough members to form an organization around their weekly donations. They decided to become the Friday Fundraising Collective. “It has been really cool to see both the numbers of people grow, and the dollar amount grow as the people grow,” said Reeder. “We all have very different networks. [. . . ] It was first a few people from Whittier I knew who joined along, and they had very different networks than I.” 

The Collective is dedicated to donating to organizations that specifically aid Black or Inidegnous individuals and communities. “There have been some orgs that we have rejected just because they don’t specifically talk about Black or Indigenous issues in their mission statement,” said Reeder. “Obviously, that is not to say they don’t help [BIPOC], but we really do want to stick to the orgs doing the work so that we [can] continue the momentum from this movement.” When choosing where to donate each week, any of the members are encouraged to pitch their ideas of organizations they have worked with or seen on social media. It is up to the person who pitches the organization to do the background research and be confident in their mission statement and work. With certain donations, they are able to have full transparency of what the donations go towards. When they donated to D.C. Books to Prisons, the organization made a post that showed that their over $5,000 donation went towards 1,300 books shipped to prisons. “We don’t always have that level of transparency, which is something that, as we are expanding, we are looking to kind of improve,” said Reeder. “It really is cool to see exactly where your money is going and to see the impact you make.”

Reeder shares a break down of funds raised over the past few months. Photo courtesy of Instagram.

In terms of the Collective’s own transparency, members seem dedicated to being fully transparent in the amount of money they collect each week, and where that money is going towards. At the end of every collecting period, members compile the donations they receive individually, and one member is selected to make the entire donation under the name of the Collective. Their Instagram account posts the total amount raised each Friday, and the receipts for each donation made.

In growing their platform, the Collective has created another method of taking donations; on top of Friday Fundraising, they now also collect Mutual Aid Mondays. Mutual aid is considered a form of political participation in which a community comes together to support one another. In the case of Mutual Aid Mondays, the Collective gathers donations, again, for more individual causes that reach out in need of help. For example, this past Monday, Nov. 16, they helped raise $500 of rent money for Mainor, a trans-immigrant activist who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. Donating on Mondays is more optional for members of the Collective, though there are a few that choose to contribute.

As of this month, the Collective have opened up applications for organizations and individuals to apply to be a beneficiary of the organization. Organizations looking for donations can fill out a two-question application that asks for the name and the Instagram handle of the organization. Individuals seeking mutual aid can apply, filling out a survey that is more in-depth by answering questions about the individual’s identity and reason behind the need for aid. According to the mutual aid survey, Mutual Aid Mondays raise, on average, $300, while Friday Fundraisings raise roughly $3,000. Though, Reeder says that their Friday Fundraising schedule already has organizations planned each week through December, meaning that organizations looking for Friday donations will have to wait longer to have funds raised.

The future looks promising for the Collective; it is continuing to grow, and its main contributors are dedicated to supporting that growth even with their limited resources. When first speaking to Reeder at the end of September, the group had just reached about 35 members. When catching up with her over the weekend — after they had reached the $50k total milestone — she told me that the group had expanded to nearly 65 members.

“I do want to see [the Collective] grow because I think it is so easy just to raise money from your Instagram,” said Reeder. “I think if other people wanted to follow suit, even if they didn’t want to be part of the Collective and just raise money that way — with the poll — I think it is a great idea.” For those that are interested in joining the Collective however, there is an application that can be found on the Collective’s Instagram page, though Reeder says you can also message her personal Instagram (@notorious_grace) to join.

Photo courtesy of Instagram.

With the near-doubling of their members, their weekly donations have also nearly doubled. When starting their Instagram account in late September, their weekly collections averaged around $3,000; now, that average has been raised closer to $5,000. The highest collected donations raised in a single week so far was $6,030 for Black Trans Rent Relief. “Sometimes, people don’t get any donations one week, and then they’ll get their most donations the next,” said Reeder. While Collective members may be compiling donations from their friends and followers, it is also the standard for members themselves to continually donate too. “Some weeks, you can, and some weeks, you can’t, but all of us donate [. . .] in addition to what people donate to us,” she said. “I know a lot of [members] will match donations to a certain amount just to double their impact.”

The Collective is also looking towards becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. They are currently in the process of writing guidelines before submitting the application, and the application fee plans to be covered from the individual members in the form of a dollar or two contributed by each. “We are still not going to be making any money off of this,” said Reeder. “That is something I am super adamant about.” In order to form their guidelines, the Collective has been working with Black-led organization Until Freedom, who encouraged them to seek the 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Reeder says that becoming a non-profit would not change the way the Collective operates, except for possibly placing more limitations on their ability to use Venmo as their main way of collecting donations. “I’m extremely proud of how far we’ve come, seeing our organization grow from a few people,” said Reus. “The connections we continue to make can only benefit us in our goal to help and uplift others in need.”

Photo courtesy of Instagram.

 

With organizations in need of donations lined up through December and by continuously expanding its members, the Friday Fundraising Collective does not seem as if they will be slowing down any time soon. Since starting in June, the Collective has redistributed $55,304.33 in total donations for BIPOC organizations, all by simply posting on Instagram. “One of our biggest things [. . .] is that this is a movement not a moment, so make sure you are keeping up the donations,” said Reeder. “Don’t let it die down just because no one is talking about it anymore.”

Feature image: Courtesy of Grace Reeder.

Author

  • Tori O'Campo has worked for the Quaker Campus since 2017, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Quaker Campus. She most enjoys writing about art, music, and culture.

Tori O'Campo has worked for the Quaker Campus since 2017, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Quaker Campus. She most enjoys writing about art, music, and culture.

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