The Georgetown Mutual Aid Network (GU Mutual Aid) faces continued difficulty fulfilling donation requests as fundraising from campus community members dwindles.
After its creation in August 2020 by Megan Huynh (NHS ’22) and Binqi Chen (NHS ’22), GU Mutual Aid has distributed $173,703.42 through Venmo to provide grassroots financial support to over 2,500 students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently however, the organizers have been forced to shut down the donation request form within days of its opening, including one instance where the form was closed over a two week period from Jan. to Feb. and another time earlier in January, when the form was closed within one day of its opening. The shutting down of the form has been due to high demand and a lack of available funds.
Chen believes donations have slowed because students no longer believe people are experiencing pandemic-related economic struggles.
“For many people, their lives have returned to some level of normalcy since two years ago, and I think that to them, they are no longer struggling with the pandemic and they don’t see a need to give back,” Chen said in an interview with The Hoya. “People are getting fatigued and tired of donating.”
While it typically takes around a week to bring GU Mutual Aid’s Venmo balance up to $1,500, its typical target balance to open its request form, it has recently taken three to four weeks to reach that amount, Huynh said.
Additionally, GU Mutual Aid has been forced to close the form only two to three hours after reopening it, according to Huynh.
“We just got overloaded with requests and didn’t have enough money to fund all of them,” Huynh said. “It’s just been taking us a lot longer to hit our fundraising goals and fulfill those requests.”
According to Chen, they now receive over 50 requests an hour when their form is open.
Huynh said the increase in requests may be due to backups caused by the closure of the request form.
“I don’t know if it’s because we are getting a larger quantity of requests or if it’s those requests have been building up over the past month that we’ve been closed,” Huynh said. “This is probably the worst it’s been.”
This is not the first time the group has struggled to keep their request form open. Last fall, GU Mutual Aid faced challenges meeting demand while adjusting to an increase in requests when students returned to in-person instruction for the first time since 2020.
To increase donations, GU Mutual Aid recently partnered with The Corp, a student-run nonprofit, during the organization’s week-long 50th Anniversary celebration to host an open mic night fundraising event Feb. 15 at The Corp’s Midnight Mug location.
GU Mutual Aid raised around $500 through selling snacks and ticket sales at the event, according to Huynh.
The Corp decided to capitalize on its 50th anniversary to direct student attention to the fundraising event, according to The Corp’s Community Engagement Chair Rose Dallimore (SFS ’22).
“We have to incentivize folks to come in and participate in things like this, to really try to highlight the amazing work mutual aid does and support them,” Dallimore said in an interview with The Hoya.
GU Mutual Aid will host other fundraisers with The Corp, including raising money through a new thrift store in the Corp’s Uncommon Grounds location run by Georgetown’s Renewable Energy and Environmental Network, a campus organization promoting environmental activism, according to Huynh.
Huynh said while some students may not see the importance of GU Mutual Aid they should continue to donate.
“All these problems, like students facing food insecurity and housing instability and things like that, don’t just magically go away,” Huynh said. “I think it’s important for Georgetown students to recognize that a lot of the time, even $10 to 20 means a lot more to someone else within the community than it does to them.”