About

What is NeedsList?

NeedsList is a digital platform that allows people around the world find effective ways to help refugees, support local economies and encourage grassroots innovation. 


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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 groups on the ground with online tools make their work easier and metrics to demonstrate their impact.

Our story

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.

FAQs

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.

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.

Our funding
We are currently testing a few different revenue streams.  We are committed to supporting local businesses, and receive a commission on goods sold from preferred suppliers on our platform. We also receive sponsorship from corporations and funders who have publicly committed their support to refugee aid. We take three percent on donations that come through our platform, less than the average of five percent upwards charged by most crowdfunding platforms. To learn more, please read our terms of use.

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 refugees 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