With NeedsList, groups working directly with displaced people can list their most urgent needs. Donors respond by meeting needs in real-time.

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.  NeedsList addresses the need for massive innovation in the humanitarian sector with a marketplace connecting local NGOs with individual and corporate donors.  NGOs in the field can list itemized needs for goods, services, or donations in real time.  Donors can immediately meet needs by purchasing directly from local suppliers on NeedsList, donating funds, and completing tasks.

How it works
Step 1: Vetted groups working directly with communities in crisis post their most urgent supply, volunteer, and funding needs on our platform.
Step 2: You 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.

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.


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 have an enterprise version of NeedsList corporations and funders looking for alternative ways to support displaced people. To learn more, please contact us or 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 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