Amanda Levinson is the Co-Founder and COO of NeedsList, a tech company creating solutions for a new era of global crises. NeedsList was the U.S. winner of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative in the Social Impact Category, won the Tech for Good Award in North Carolina, and was just acknowledged in Fast Company’s World-Changing Ideas issue.
From co-founding grassroots organizations to consulting for international NGOs, Amanda is a social entrepreneur with 20 years of experience helping to design, launch, and sustain social good projects in the government, tech, and nonprofit sectors. Originally from Denver, she has lived all over the country but now calls Durham home, where she lives with her husband and two sons.
- What is in your pockets?
I carry a tote bag when I go out. I just dropped the kids at school for their first full day back since March. So in my tote bag, I have a face mask, hand sanitizer, my wallet. I have a couple of essential oil rollers for stress and bug bites.
- What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
We’ve been around since 2016 and we’re really passionate about reducing the waste and inefficiency embedded in traditional humanitarian aid and disaster-relief systems. The scope and the scale of crises around the world is growing. Our traditional systems just can’t keep up with the numbers of crises and the numbers of displaced people around the world. That’s why we started NeedsList and that’s really at the heart of what we’re doing: creating more efficient systems.
We’re a woman-founded company developing solutions to more efficiently match needs and resources at the community level for disaster relief, humanitarian aid, and environmental and social issues around the globe. So two exciting things have happened recently. We launched a campaign with our software to focus on local refugee-led organizations with some big traditional players in the philanthropic and humanitarian sectors.
This campaign was important because it’s all about directing resources to local organizations that are led by refugees, refugees responding to COVID-19, the society foundations, Asylum Access, Amnesty International, and others. It’s all about raising funds for these refugee-led organizations who are on the front lines, protecting their communities from the impacts of COVID-19. The campaign has raised over $68,000 from funders and donors around the world to date.
We think that funders everywhere need to be prepared to direct resources more and more to local communities. There’s a huge appetite for this right now, and for working at the local level. Donors often want to help, but they don’t know how. So that’s one thing.
The other thing that’s really exciting is shortly after the pandemic hit, the international health organization CORE Group licensed our software to create a COVID-19 virtual marketplace. It will better match needs and offers related to PPE and knowledge management to combat misinformation about COVID-19 in Kenya and Nigeria and Ethiopia. That’s been amazing, because over a hundred members have signed up to this deployment from civil society, from the ministries of health to multilateral agencies. There are also hundreds of millions of dollars of supplies offered into this virtual marketplace. So we’re really excited about our software being used around the world.
- What is your favorite coffee spot?
- What keeps you up at night?
Well, there are so many fires and hurricanes this year on top of the pandemic, and this insane election year. I think what worries me is that people are burnt out on crisis, and they’re starting to tune out these disasters on top of disasters. It’s leaving lots of communities impacted with few resources. We’re seeing it across the board—in California with the wildfires and across the South with hurricanes. We have this incredible solution that can match needs and resources to getting the solution out there fast enough and have the resources to be able to do so. That’s really what keeps me up at night.
- What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
During the pandemic, we’ve actually been ordering out from this Korean taco place called Bulkogi. It’s great because we have so many different food restrictions in my family. I’m gluten-free, my husband’s vegan, we have a really picky eater. They have things like fusion tacos Korean-style that are just really yummy and everybody likes. It’s really good.
- What is next for you or your organization?
Well, on the work front we have some exciting partnerships that we’re launching in additional geographies that I’ll hopefully be able to talk about publicly soon. This is an expansion of our work—both COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related—as well in the refugee space and the conflict space. That’s exciting.