Editor’s Note: This is part of a series from Charley Hogwood of P.R.E.P. on mutual assistance groups (MAG).
Why a Mutual Assistance Group (MAG) Needs Organization
A mutual assistance group (MAG) is just like any other organization. It doesn’t matter what form you decide on, every group will need some version of leadership and organization if it is to be at the ready.
Many people can appreciate the benefits of belonging to a mutual assistance group, but many aren’t ready to hand over their personal sovereignty to be led by another.
After all, if you don’t want to depend on the government or anyone else to be there in hard times, why should you relinquish some of your independence to other people just because you are in a mutual assistance group?
We’ll call this the “Independence Conflict.”
5 Ways to Organize a Mutual Assistance Group
The Community Group
- They live near enough to help each other in case of localized emergencies. MAG members live so close together that if there are travel restrictions, they wouldn’t be considered outsiders. Neighbors would fall into this category.
- They usually communicate with each other through social media or in person, and even get together as friends in social situations or have a community arrangement of some sort.
- They may or may not plan for an activation, but claim to be there for each other.
- These MAG members are nearby neighbors, friends or family who form an alliance to take care of each other in times of need.
- May be a group within a group on a more personal level.
- May have specific plans to work together in advance of an emergency.
The Survival Group
- An organized, like-minded group of individuals and/or families that seek each other out to form a self-reliant community with each other.
- May move in or around each other or plan to meet in case of activation.
- The group regularly gathers to plan and train for predetermined scenarios.
- These are loosely organized, usually leaderless frameworks that will support individuals or families of the mutual assistance group who may need assistance or temporary lodging.
- Frameworks will usually have contingency plans available to all MAG members to download and print for use in case of a total grid-down scenario.
- Every MAG member will be aware of activation levels, marking techniques and possibly neighboring members. This will form a web of safety for evacuation in every direction should the situation require evacuation.
Ad Hoc or Hasty Groups
- Usually formed out of necessity in a crisis, such as a major earthquake or other no-notice event where strangers may come together out of a natural desire to work together.
- Little vetting of members, if any, and often there are very few materials or an unbalanced inventory of supplies on hand at the outset.
- These may be survivors trapped in a building, a group lost in the wilderness or victims of a crash or sinking ship.
3 MAG Leadership Options
There are several leadership options available to a mutual assistance group that don’t require re-inventing the proverbial wheel. They may be executed independently or become merged to create the final leadership model.
- A Single Leader MAG may be effective in small numbers. If the group increases in size, the leader will experience problems maintaining control over his/her subordinates.
Committee / Task Leadership
- Committee Leadership groups are effective when there are enough MAG members to round out the many tasks of daily survival.
Consensus by Vote
- Some MAGs may find that a visible majority vote by raised hand or anonymous written ballot will show the division and popularity of a decision.
Organization Depends on Compliance
Whichever structure you choose, it must be documented. Its authority must be accepted to obtain legitimacy. It doesn’t matter whether there are 10 or 100 members.
In order to maintain effectiveness, members of a mutual assistance group must all be on board or there will be problems when things get tough.