About Us

What is Packmates?

The Packmates Mutual Aid is a small-scale mutual aid organization based out of the community on the Friendathans discord server. The Friendathans community sprang from Jonathan Vair’s twitch streams, as well as people joining from Jonathan and his partner Sasha’s art patreons. But from the start, the server was oriented to be about building a community with shared priorities and fostering certain kinds of discussions. In the past few years, Sasha and Jonathan have been giving talks at furry cons about moving the direction of the furry fandom towards mutual aid, and decided to practice what they preach, and to help address needs in the online community. Since then, Packmates Mutual Aid has become a community project, with other members stepping up in fundamental ways and making the organization a team effort.

So what’s mutual aid?

You’re probably familiar with what charity is, and fundraising for charity is already pretty common in the furry fandom. However, charity is a top-down approach; generally, the people organizing and donating to a charity don’t have overlap with the recipients of the charity. It tends to focus on symptoms rather than on addressing systemic causes.

Mutual aid is more of a bottom-up approach, with people pulling together and helping one another directly. The people contributing to the mutual aid are also the people receiving aid from it— so they get to decide for themselves how the organizaiton is structured and what it focuses on. It enables a community to build into itself, creating resiliency and mutual support, rather than relying primarily on external contributions.

You can find a couple of videos to further these distinctions here:

Intro to Mutual Aid

We’re All We Got, We’re All We Need: A Mutual Aid Explainer

What is Mutual Aid? (Classroom Version)

Usually mutual aids are focused locally, because people living in the same area tend to have similar unmet needs, and it’s a lot easier to share resources and organize in person. Packmates is online, but is still focused on helping our members with various needs, both financial and non-financial.

Charity isn’t a bad thing, obviously— but it’s different from mutual aid, and these distinctions are important to understand.

So how does it work?

Members of the community submit an aid request through this form. Organizer volunteers (people in the community who help run the mutual aid) then look at the submitted requests. Sometimes individual members will just fulfill the request themselves up front. If this doesn’t happen, then active volunteers will discuss the request, based on our evaluation criteria, and will vote on the request. If approved, the person who requested the aid will be connected with a volunteer and/or have aid dispensed directly, depending on the nature of the request.

For larger requests, or if the Packmates financial aid pool is currently low, then we may need to put on a fundraiser event in order to fulfill the request. In that case, various members of the community will volunteer to stream, take commissions, etc to raise money to meet the need. Donations are sent to the Packmates Mutual Aid’s page on GiveButter, unless the aid recipient has a separate fundraiser page.

In a way, the mutual aid almost acts as a sort of catch-all insurance for our community. If you know you can come here to ask for help when you need it, then maybe your life will have more of a sense of security and less scarcity anxiety!

What if you raise more/less than the goal?

We hope to always meet the goal, but if we fall short, then sometimes community members will cover the remaining gap themselves. Regardless, we will send as close to the requested amount as we can manage.

If funds are raised beyond the requested goal, then the extra funds will sit in the mutual aid’s pool, to give us a buffer for future requests. Ideally, we always have some funds in the pool so that we can fulfill smaller requests on short notice, rather than having to orchestrate an entire fundraiser event every time.

Further Information

Packmates has a policy of transparency and accountability in how we operate. One of our foundational long-term goals is to eventually be able to offer a comprehensive guide on how other people can replicate what we’re doing to create their own mutual aid operation within their own community. Currently, we’re still in the process of developing our organization and learning what works and what doesn’t work, so we don’t feel able to offer up a full guide yet. In the mean time, here are some additional resources for people who are curious what we’re about.

Aid Request Process

Evaluation Criteria

Packmates Mutual Aid Intro Sheet

Packmates Server Resources

These are some resources we use for our own server events and other goings-on. Keeping activity going on our server in general and making space for people to meet each other and have fun is part of helping build the community. These documents are kept here for easy access, but if you feel like using them for your own community, you’re welcome to do so!

How To Guides

How to Host an Art Study

How to Host a VRChat Meetup

Other Resources

Packmates Printable Resources

Fundraiser Calendar

If we have an upcoming fundraiser event, the events for it will appear in the calendar below.

Fundraiser Calendar