How comedian Erin Hattamer got TikTok's favorite influencers to raise funds for Palestinian families

Composite image of three separate TikTok video screenshots, each featuring a different person speaking into the camera. From left to right: Drew Afualo, Erin Hattamer, Chris Olsen. Each section includes captions, user interactions, and donation details related to their personal causes.

If you’ve seen some of your favorite TikTok creators, influencers, and celebrities share a fundraiser in support of a Palestinian family this week, then you’ve seen the work of Erin Hattamer.

Hattamer is an improv and sketch comedian who rose to popularity on TikTok, amassing over 1.5 million followers. But recently, she has transformed her presence on the app from hilarious sketches to grassroots community organizing — while, of course, still sprinkling in some humor.

After using her platform to show support for Palestinians, Hattamer started receiving messages from people on the ground in Gaza and Rafah asking for her help.

“I was getting messages from hundreds of families from Palestine, and I couldn’t keep up,” she told Good Good Good. “There wasn’t enough time or space to talk about everyone. It was heartbreaking every day to have to pick and choose who to talk about.” 

Erin Hattamer
Photo courtesy of Erin Hattamer

So, using “the minimal organizing skills” she had, Hattamer made a form for people to fill out so she could pair these families with other creators who could amplify their stories and donate to their cause.

Then, the pros reached out. 

Operation Olive Branch, a digital volunteer effort organizing and supporting fundraising campaigns that help displaced Palestinians, had been doing this work for months. They offered Hattamer a more standardized method to match families with potential donors.

OOB is led by a coalition of volunteers who collect and verify mutual aid campaigns of hundreds of Palestinian families and share them through a (very thorough and color-coded) spreadsheet

These fundraisers, according to an (again, very detailed) FAQ page from OOB, “include campaigns from families regardless of their request, whether it be funds for medical aid, food, supplies of living, evacuation fees, or to rebuild their homes.”

Families are verified through active social media accounts where they document their experiences on the ground in Gaza, or through direct WhatsApp calls with Arabic-speaking volunteers. 

The verification process — combined with GoFundMe’s “Giving Guarantee” policy — allow organizers to mitigate scams and quickly help those in need, expediting funds that often go toward paying exorbitant fees and bribes to evacuate to Egypt

While many families desperate to cross the border hope to be verified and added to the list, Hattamer said around 800 pre-verified OOB families still need help to meet their goals.

That’s where she comes in.

“They [OOB] have so many hard-working people there that are much more capable than myself,” Hattamer said. “We simply used their list to assign families to creators who were reaching out.”

Hattamer has been the liaison between this grassroots mutual aid effort and big-name creators — like Hank and John Green, Chris Olsen, and Drew Afualo, among many others who have shared and donated to these fundraisers. Even Lizzo has amplified the work of OOB.

“My philosophy is that not one person — me or anyone else — should carry the burden of speaking out,” Hattamer said in a TikTok that explains the project — which she and her followers have aptly named ‘Pass the Hat.’ 

“It’s not just up to me, it’s not just up to you; it’s up to everyone.”

And sharing the load is working.

“We have over 2,000 individuals signed up to symbolically adopt a family and have paired over 600 families. I have been blown away by the reaction,” Hattamer said.

At first, she doubted how many creators she’d be able to get on board. After all, many had seemingly shied away from creating content that could be seen as too political, amid Israel’s bombardment of the occupied area, where an estimated 34,622 Palestinians have been killed in the past 200+ days.

“I thought maybe some mutuals would be interested, but people ran with it. People posted about it without me having to even prompt them, and it’s turned into this,” Hattamer said. “I am just so fucking grateful it worked out that way.”

The caveat to Pass the Hat, she said, is that it shouldn’t have taken her efforts for other creators to get involved.

“I’m so happy Pass the Hat has taken off. I’m so happy we can highlight OOB,” she said in a TikTok. “But did you know that OOB was a bunch of volunteers that are folks of color that have been posting about this for months? And it took me posting about it obsessively for people to start getting on board.”

@operationolivebranch We need to re-center what OOB is! Please watch in full! Thank you @Erin Hattamer !!! #operationolivebranch #passthehat #yanatheartist ♬ Free Time - YANAtheartist

OOB organizers have also shared similar sentiments, reminding their new audience that they don’t have to wait to be “assigned” a family to donate to someone in need, and that Black and Brown creators still need support.

“The entire point of Pass the Hat was Erin reaching out to huge influencers who had been ignoring BIPOC creators,” one OOB organizer said in a TikTok, “because Erin understands her visibility, her platform, and her privilege.”

Despite the frustration about the silence of certain creators (until this point), Hattamer does concede that the mainstream attention of Pass the Hat has made talking about Palestine more approachable for many.

I can’t let my own anger get in the way. The people being targeted by Israel don’t care about our squabbles or politics. They want to live. I am happy to come to the table with anyone that wants to help. Sometimes it means swallowing my anger and reaching out a hand.

“There have been some creators that I had low expectations of that have exceeded them,” she said, of folks who have enthusiastically supported the project. “I think it shows that people did want to help but had no way to direct their focus.” 

Ultimately, Hattamer said she hopes to remove her ego from these efforts. In fact, getting swept up in petty disputes about what certain creators have said, or who is doing enough, or who deserves recognition, only fuels her fire to redirect people’s focus to Palestinians on the ground.

“I can’t let my own anger get in the way. The people being targeted by Israel don’t care about our squabbles or politics. They want to live,” she said. “I am happy to come to the table with anyone that wants to help. Sometimes it means swallowing my anger and reaching out a hand.” 

She continues to reach out in every direction, still engaging with a number of Palestinian families herself. After all, that’s how Pass the Hat started.

Colorful webpage layout with a light blue background scattered with playful elements like a rainbow, a heart-shaped eye, and confetti. At the center, a list of clickable links for various charitable causes such as "Adopt a Family from Gaza" and "Donate to Urgent appeal to help almasharawi family leave Gaza," each accompanied by the organizer's name. At the top, a profile photo of a woman, labeled "@erinhattamer."
Hattamer's LinkTree includes a number of GoFundMe pages for families in need.

There’s Dana, who Hattamer said has been on the ground helping connect and verify families who are at the heart of this campaign, and continues to seek support herself after her brother and father were hit by shrapnel in Rafah.

Reem and her family also stay in touch with Hattamer regularly and initially reached out because their baby, Laila, bears a resemblance to the comedian.

“They are close to the bombings,” Hattamer said. “But I message them as much as I can to make sure they are safe.”

Rawan and Heba are also new friends of Hattamer’s, who take time to share on-the-ground updates, even as they try to build the resources to flee.

The connections Hattamer shares with these individuals tether her to the situation in the most hands-on way available: Through a screen, sharing dollars and stories, desperate to make an impact.

From the looks of it, she is.

“We have made people’s goals,” she said. “This way is working, and the families send so much love.”

At the end of the day, even as important conversations about privilege and influence continue, Hattamer’s goals are the same as many’s: To help. To encourage people to do what they can with what they have.

“They [the families] often ask me ‘how are you doing?’” she said. “And it breaks my fucking heart that they still, after all of this, have the decency to check on others.”

Header images courtesy of Drew Afualo, Erin Hattamer, and Chris Olsen/TikTok

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