NeedsList is the world’s first online marketplace serving communities displaced by climate change and conflict and disrupting the humanitarian aid space.
With NeedsList, organizations working directly with people displaced by conflict can list their most urgent needs. Donors respond by meeting needs in real-time. We see ourselves as humanitarian relief for the 21st century - tech enabled, locally powered, transparent, direct, and women-led. Think of us as a "wedding registry for aid" bringing a startup/profit plus purpose approach to one of the most outdated sectors around.
How it works
Step 1: Vetted organizations working directly with communities in crisis post their most urgent supply, volunteer, and funding needs on NeedsList via our web-app or chatbot.
Step 2: Users search for and meet needs the way you want to help--by purchasing supplies, giving time or money.
Step 3: The system updates in real-time as needs are met. Supplies are delivered quickly from local suppliers whenever possible.
What’s important to us
We support collaboration and movement building among grassroots teams. As natural connectors, we are facilitating relationships not just between donors and NGOs but among NGOs, with suppliers, and other stakeholders.
We are committed to supporting the local economy through direct purchasing from in-country suppliers.
We provide organizations on the ground with online tools make their work easier and metrics to demonstrate their impact.
In October of 2015, the European refugee crisis became impossible for the world to ignore. Thousands of adults and children fled their home countries to escape conflict, starvation and death, desperately seeking safety and hope for the future.
Underfunded and overstretched humanitarian organizations and ill-prepared governments could not cope effectively with the burgeoning crisis. Reports of the results of this gap spurred concerned citizens from around the globe to spring into action.
NeedsList’s founder, Natasha Freidus, was working directly with Syrian refugees in France, providing food, transportation and essential supplies to families. As she tried to coordinate goods with needs, she realized there were no good tools to manage supplies and donations.
At the same time, cofounder Amanda Levinson was in the United States trying to support local efforts on the ground. She found supply drives to be time-consuming and expensive but there were few practical ways to purchase goods directly from suppliers. So Tasha and Amanda partnered together to develop a better solution.
Our social impact
NeedsList facilitates relationships between donors and NGOs, between NGOs and suppliers, and among NGOs and other grassroots teams. We support local economies by encouraging direct purchasing from in-country suppliers. And we provide groups on the ground with online tools to make their work easier and metrics to demonstrate their impact.
The vetting process
NeedsList works closely with a network of umbrella NGOs that serve as vetting partners. These groups act as ‘incubators’ to build capacity and authenticate the legitimacy of smaller, grassroots initiatives. Our partners focus on building capacity. They conduct site visits and occasionally serve as fiscal sponsors for emerging groups. Users can filter by groups verified by specific partners. Other organizations are vetted by external funders or partners as indicated.
Why is a solution like NeedsList necessary?
We have an aid system in need of aid. Our current institutions can't keep up with the rapidly increasing demand of people displaced by conflict and climate change. Last year alone, $27 billion dollars was spent on humanitarian aid, and that was still 11 billion dollars shor. By 2050 the needs are expected to hit 50 billion dollars. Sadly, an average of 70 cents on every dollar in emergency aid is spent on logistics Clearly, a problem of this scale requires a multi-sector approach.
How is NeedsList registered?
NeedsList is a Public Benefit Corporation. This designation means that we must consider our social mission in tandem with our efforts to make our company financially profitable. As a for-profit we are able to be flexible, nimble and can scale rapidly. We believe that profit is more than financial. We join a growing movement of innovators who believe that collective prosperity will triumph over individual profit. Read more about our values here.
How is NeedsList registered?
NeedsList is a Public Benefit Corporation. This designation means that we must consider our social mission in tandem with our efforts to make our company financially profitable. We believe that profit is more than financial. We join a growing movement of innovators who believe that collective prosperity will triumph over individual profit. Read more about our values here.
What is Smart Aid?
SMART AID is an innovative approach to developing humanitarian solutions, rooted in local needs, efficiency and dignity. Organizations and groups working within this model display the following characteristics:
EFFECTIVE: Responding to a specific challenge identified by local responders, in an efficient, organized way
LOCAL: Building in-country capacity and directing funds to local businesses and organizations, thereby supporting the local economy
DIGNIFIED: Providing dignity and empowerment to communities in crisis through quality solutions and services that take their needs, culture and preferences into consideration
COLLABORATIVE: Collaborating with other teams in the area and further afield to create chains of support and avoid duplication of efforts. These groups also have high degrees of collaboration within their own teams to respond to urgent needs as they arise
TRANSPARENT: Accountability and transparency of funds and donations encourages ongoing participation from small and large donors alike
TECH-SAVVY: Leveraging technology as a tool to make a greater impact. This can be low-tech, open source, social media, software or hardware
SCALABLE: Providing open source solutions and creating systems that can be replicated elsewhere
To learn more, please check out this article from our partners, Campfire Innovation.
Photo credit, Georgios Giannopoulos