Happy Birthday to NeedsList!

Published in
3 min readAug 12, 2020


Today’s the day…we’re turning four years old! In honor of this milestone, we’re going to walk you through how this brainchild has grown and transformed over time into the robust set of tools we have today.


For those of you who don’t know, the idea for NeedsList was sparked during the refugee crisis in 2016. Tasha was volunteering with refugees in France, and Amanda was back in the US trying to understand what was needed there, and gathering necessary items to send over. Both found that the aid process was very disorganized and inefficient, and goods being sent over were not always needed by the time they arrived. From this chaos, they conceived the idea to create a centralized space to neatly document everything that was needed — NeedsList!

NeedsList started with 12 nonprofit partners and began working with individual donors looking to make an impact from abroad.

We built our Community Engagement Software, where local grassroots organizations could post their needs and spread it amongst their communities, to gather either monetary or physical donations, or get help with tasks.


Eventually, we saw that this model could work not only in cases of refugees, but in all sorts of scenarios where people are in need. Amanda moved to North Carolina right before Hurricane Florence hit, and began to deploy NeedsList on a greater scale to address natural disasters and other crises as well.

As the number of nonprofit partners began to expand, so did our model. We began working more with large businesses such as Starbucks and TripAdvisor to do employee engagement projects for staff to engage with helping refugees across the world and/or people in their communities affected by disaster.


We know that when a disaster strikes, there are many large agencies and organizations that step onto the scene to help (think Red Cross, UNHCR, and also government). These agencies are responsible for coordinating a response amongst multiple organizations that are in the area of disaster/crisis, and it is sometimes difficult for them to know all of the needs within each community. However, they are also the ones with strong relationships amongst various nonprofits and businesses, and if they had a service to connect all of those relationships together, there could be a more streamlined and efficient response.

For example:

A hurricane surges through parts of Florida, devastating certain neighborhoods, and lightly impacting others. One community may need lifesaving supplies such as medical equipment, whereas another may need new clothing and shoes for children. These needs can change day to day, as disaster response is dynamic, and there must be a way to respond to needs as quickly as possible.

We created NeedsList Crisis Coordination Software, which can be licensed by these larger organizations and governments to respond both a) uniquely to various community needs and organizations and b) automatically! If an NGO posts that they need a supply and someone (such as a business in the area) is able to offer what’s needed, the system will automatically match the two.


NeedsList continues to grow and expand to respond to a wide range of issues and constituents. We now are working with multiple governments and will be expanding to additional regions this autumn (stay tuned for news in this area!) We’re thrilled to learn with our users, to explore the intersections and boundaries of databases and decolonization, artificial intelligence and human dignity, user interface and anti-racism. This work may be challenging, but it is never boring. Thank you for joining us to celebrate as we continue to evolve and grow.




We’re designing new ways to meet the growing needs of displaced people worldwide. Get involved! #withrefugees #tech4good #socialinnovation #Humanitarians