This Platform is Giving People a Totally New Way of Helping Refugees Directly

Amanda Levinson, Co-founder and US Director of NeedsList, a humanitarian needs-matching platform.

When humanitarian disasters like the Syrian refugee crisis occur, people want to help, they just don’t know how. We know this first-hand, and it’s why we created NeedsList. NeedsList was born out of our personal experiences working with refugees in Europe and attempting to support refugees from the U.S. Like so many thousands of volunteers, our founder, Tasha, was working directly with Syrian refugees in her village in France, providing food, transportation, and essential supplies to families. As she tried to coordinate needs, she was struck by the realization of how there weren’t any good tools to manage supplies and donations. At the same time, I was in the U.S. trying to figure out how to support local efforts on the ground. Supply drives seemed inefficient and costly, but there weren’t many good ways to purchase supplies directly from suppliers. And I also wanted to contribute my marketing and tech expertise in a way that could help groups make more of a difference.

We both knew that aid workers needed better ways to collect supplies and recruit volunteers, and also that donors are increasingly interested in giving to groups that provide quick, transparent and direct services and aid. This is the promise of NeedsList, where vetted groups of aid workers and nonprofits create lists of the most urgent needs facing the communities they are working with--everything from blankets to formula, translators to transportation. If you want to help, you can search by topic or geography and give supplies, time, or money to groups and aid workers directly with refugees in the field. Unless a donor lives locally and can deliver supplies in person, NeedsList encourages them to purchase supplies directly from local suppliers, to support the local economy and ensure that urgent supplies are delivered quickly. Since everything is updated in real time, responders can be certain that the needs that are listed are those that are truly needed.

One of the reasons why we love the work of The Unmentionables is because they are taking a smart approach to refugee aid. Their human-centered approach to identifying preferences of the communities they work with ensures that what’s purchased is what will be used by the refugees themselves. They partner with local suppliers to have hygiene supplies delivered directly to refugees, which invests in and grows the local economy. And most importantly, dignity is at the core of everything they do. We are proud to have The Unmentionables testing our platform.

Take a look at The Unmentionables' Needslist to see how you can help provide dignity through hygiene to refugee communities!