NeedsMap creates online and offline communities to disrupt the power dynamics in the aid sector by creating transparent exchange processes through technology,bringing together the benefactors and the potential donors in a peer-to-peer solidarity system, activating local changemakers such as youth volunteers, dedicated teachers, hospital workers, village leaders to take their first step into tackling a social problem they face. In doing so, they tackle poverty-related problems across Turkey through their digital mapping system and the strong volunteer community.
The New Idea
NeedsMap is a voluntary digital map based web portal that tackles poverty related social problems through its bridge matching system by bringing together those in need and benefactors in an efficient, systemic transparent way. In doing so, they are mobilizing thousands of youth as volunteers, activating them to be part of the movement and enabling teachers, hospital workers and citizens in general to act as local changemakers who take action to meet their local communities’ needs.
According to Development Initiatives Report, global humanitarian aid reached annual 28 billion USD and the same report shares that 3.2 billion lives in poverty line. The same report shares that there is huge tendency where fund allocation to NGOs and or direct beneficiaries decreasing while recipients of funds via UN agencies increased. This inefficient chain of agencies is causing the humanitarian aid to dissolve between the intermediaries, causing decrease in donors of individuals. In 2016, 52% of the donors in Turkey declared that they rather prefer to donate to the beneficiary directly rather than doing it through an intermediary institution.
Realizing the potential of direct in-kind donation in Turkey, Ali Ercan and Mert created an online platform that activates the citizens to act against the local problems by helping them with needed goods. After the successful pilot of the online platform, the team created an intensive network of youth volunteers to help the locals in need to better benefit from the online tool. As their third step, the duo is determined to use the comprehensive data on the online platform to change policies of public institutions by drawing attention to the most needed things in the schools, hospitals, community centres, and so on. Ali Ercan and Mert believe that local changemakers will strive to their potential if their basic needs are accommodated, either by the individuals or the state institutions.
Since their establishment in 2015, the NeedsMap team have facilitated 900,000 transactions in all 81 cities in Turkey. Most of these were to meet the needs of schools, which caught the attention of the Minsitry of Education, who requested the team to act as a facilitator for schools across Turkey. In addition the team plan to analyse their data to help the government organizations understand the educational and health needs of different regions in the country. The future plans of the duo include scaling the model to other areas such as volunteering and to other interested countries, especially in Europe.