Building Your Team

Whether you are a manufacturer, belong to an existing makerspace, or are a home crafter, you have the power to set up a local response group within your community. Discover groups around you, expand them, or stand up your own!

Finding and Creating Local Response Groups

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, more groups all over the globe have sprung up to help their local communities. This section will help you find groups near you, as well as help you think through an effective team structure if you are standing up a new entity.

Search for Existing Efforts

The easiest way to get involved is to find an existing group in your local area where you can contribute your time and efforts. OSMS has partnered with Nation of Makers, Find the Masks, and Fab Foundation to map local response groups and donation efforts all across the world, to make it easy to find a group near you.

Find the Masks, in collaboration with OSMS and NOM, show local response groups all over the globe on their maker map.
  • Search for pre-existing groups by exploring the OSMS Local Response Map to see if there are any response efforts working in your area.
  • Check local makerspace and FabLab websites and social media feeds for clues. Remember to try a few different location tags, such as major city, county, state or municipality.
  • Use social media (Facebook Groups, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc., and Google) to search for your local area, and see if there are already any OSMS or other crafter or maker groups organizing.

Reach Out to the Maker and Crafter Community

Much of the COVID-19 Local Response efforts have originated from within the pre-existing Maker and Crafter communities. If you are in need of locally-manufactured supplies or want to work with maker or crafter groups, first search the Local Response Map for maker and crafter groups in medical supply production near you. 

If you are trying to activate production, and you are seeking to galvanize makers and crafters, here are some tips for reaching them:

  • Shared tool facilities like makerspaces, FabLabs and hackerspaces have mobilized members and tools, and have been incredible forces for design and production. Note guidelines for safe workplace guidelines for social distancing and for sterile working conditions are being developed (see Resources Links).
  • Sewists are more numerous and more distributed as tools are close to portable. Mask making groups have organized across social groups like churches, schools, neighborhoods, and existing friend networks. When reaching out to these groups, note they often have their own individual cultures and ways of operating. In building collaborations with them, it is important to respect the structures they have established and focus on identifying and communicating the value that you are able to provide to them, rather than on attempting to change their overall structures and operational models. This value could be access to included designs, materials, or supplies such as 3D printed bias tape makers.
  • Many universities have prototyping facilities in engineering and design departments.
  • Some helpful indexes for finding these organizations:

Look for National Organizations

Some countries have organized to the extent that they have national coordination.  OSMS has studied how maker communities of different countries individually responded to the crisis. We explored how they solved problems specific to their geography and other factors, and deliver the insights in the form of individual case studies vetted for accuracy by the respective national maker communities and organizations. If you are from these countries or want to learn from their organizing structures, reading these case studies will be a valuable orientation:

Create Your Own Organization

If no group exists in your area, you can always create your own! Keep the following in mind as you begin to process your ideas:

  1. Secure teammates to launch the group with you. Review the Functions, Roles and Responsibilities section below for the kind of talent you are looking for.
  2. When choosing your geographic area of focus, think regionally. A state or country is likely too large to serve for a new organization. On the other hand, a small town might not have enough people to support the level of involvement needed. Also, consider any current travel restrictions that may limit the movement of raw material inputs to production sites to organizations in need— such restrictions may create a boundary for your region.
  3. If you want to, leverage the OSMS brand. When creating a group, please name it “Open Source Medical Supplies – [Your Geographic Area].” Please see the simple OSMS Brand Guide to help you create a logo.
  4. Please help us follow your work and “register” your group. You can register with us by completing this survey. Registration will add your group to the OSMS Local Response Map and connect you into the communication channels of Local Response groups working all over the globe. Read more about the benefits of joining the OSMS Local Response Network.

Build Your Team

Photo credit: Saving Face San Francisco

Composition of each organization will be informed by local circumstances as well as number of volunteers, talents and resources available. Your organization may be focused on one product but coordinating hundreds of volunteers. Or your organization might be coordinating production across different groups, each of whom is focused on one product (e.g. face shields, gowns and masks).

As you build your team, we recommend that critical roles be doubled or overlapping in case of illness or other disruptions. As this crisis impacts more and more people personally, individual capacity will fluctuate. Plan for this ahead of time and build in both redundancy and clear channels for communication.

If you are an existing organization (especially a makerspace) pivoting to a medical supply making effort, review the OSMS document Making Medical Supplies Sustainably for more in-depth guidance.

Functions, Roles, and Responsibilities

This proposed staffing model is not a one-size-fits-all model; this a starting point for tasks your group will likely encounter. In most organizations, people work across multiple roles. As your group grows, you can recruit additional people to take on tasks based on their relevant skills and connections, and roles can become more specialized. Each local response group will be composed differently; consider these “job descriptions” to be prompts for thinking through how you might staff leadership for your effort.



What to Consider

Designs & Regulations for Makers in Emergencies

Outreach Guidance

Finding Needs and Building Relationships