The Offers and Needs Market

The Offers and Needs Market

Picture of Offers and Needs Market Example from SimpleREV 2015

An Offers and Needs Market is a way to discover what kinds of support you can provide to others and what help you might get within a specific community. Each exchange builds a connection, more connections create meaningful relationships, and the collective relationships strengthen communities – and maybe even create new ones.

It's also a way to bootstrap communities by focusing on what passions, skills, resources, and connections the group already has. It highlights what people can already do and provides a positive way to short-circuit the “But … we don’t have any resources!” narrative. The emphasis is on creating and sustaining a mindset of what you can do to help – and get helped – right now.

How an OANM Helps and Creates Communities

  • It reduces consumption. By making the most of existing assets, people don’t need to buy something that they can access when they need it.
  • It reduces waste. When someone else’s surplus or gift can become another’s gain, fewer precious resources like time go to waste.
  • It builds and enhances personal connections and community. Knowing who's doing what, who has access to what, and who knows who are vital for getting things done.
  • It creates new possibilities for co-created action that none of us can do alone.
  • It increases community ownership and commitment since it requires active participation and shifts the group narrative from what's scarce to what's abundant.
  • It’s a simple, fast, and inexpensive way to resource a movement because it focuses on what already exists – people's hidden or intentionally public gifts – and is positive in nature.
  • It’s mostly (or completely) non-commercial. OANMs don’t typically involve financial transactions.

In-Person or Virtual: It's Your Call

Whether you like sticky notes on a wall or a shared spreadsheet around the world, an OANM can be run in-person or virtually.

For Facilitators

Are you feeling experimental? Try a decentralized, longer duration OANM with a simple one-page set of instructions.

For Participants

What Now?

If you'd like me to potentially run an OANM for your community, feel free to contact me.

And if you want to prepare for an OANM or reflect upon one you experienced, answer some modified questions from Peter Block's book, Community: A Structure of Belonging.

  • What has someone in your community done today that has moved you or been valuable to you?
  • How did someone in your community engage you in a way that had meaning?
  • What gift do you have that nobody knows about?
  • What are you grateful for that has gone unspoken?
  • What is the positive feedback you receive that still surprises you?
  • What is the gift you have that you don't fully acknowledge?

Hi! I'm Joel Zaslofsky.

Joel ZaslofskyI help create community, podcast about groovy things, and get you excited about spreadsheets. Learn more about me and how to live intentionally, build authentic relationships, and have tons of gratitude. No prior experience is required.


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