Solidarity and Empowerment: Digital organising for mutual aid groups during COVID-19

The story behind building a 200,000-strong volunteer operation during a global pandemic



About this session

This session will share the story of how, a platform for mutual aid groups in Switzerland, was built from scratch by teams working remotely during the early days of the first COVID-19 lockdown. Participants will get a glimpse behind the scenes at an operation that was scaled from zero to 100 groups over its first weekend and from 100 to 1000 groups within the first ten days. Alessandro Iacono will talk about their MVP approach, building the platform on the run, and volunteer involvement, which in the end included approximately 200,000 volunteers and which is what made the scale possible in the first place.

Aimed at

  • Anyone working with volunteers or working in community management or in (digital) organising
  • Anyone who wants to know what’s possible when solidarity meets empowerment during an unprecedented crisis
  • Anyone interested in learning more about the approaches, tactics, and tools used to scale this operation and how similar approaches can be applied to already existing organisations

Learning outcomes

  • Learn about the importance of harnessing crucial moments to build something big and finding the courage to start something without knowing whether it’s going to work
  • Learn about how volunteer-led distributed organising allowed the team to scale from 0 to 200,000 volunteers in few weeks
  • Learn about the tactics and tools that facilitated the process



Alessandro Iacono (Switzerland)
Cofounder and Digital Strategist, digital/organizing