Why and How to Run an Offers and Needs Market – SASM 112

Joel Zaslofsky Smiling at You Picture

The first question I always get is, “What the heck is an Offers and Needs Market?”

That's normally after I tell people that I run Offers and Needs Markets (OANM) and that they're fantastic for community-building, simple-living, and good ol' fashioned fun.

At its core, an OANM is about discovering, elevating, and distributing gifts within a community. These gifts become the foundation for connection, a beacon of hospitality, and make a real difference in the lives of an OANM's participants.

In other words:

“Each gift exchange builds a connection, more connections create meaningful relationships, and the collective relationships strengthen existing communities. It highlights what people can already do and provides a positive way to short-circuit the ‘But … we don’t have any resources!' narrative.”

I'll explain why and how to run an OANM in this episode and, at a minimum, you'll experience these benefits if you make your own OANM happen:

  • 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 resource, less material and time goes to waste.
  • It builds and enhances personal connections and community. Knowing who is doing what, who has access to what, and who knows who are vital for getting things done.
  • It’s a simple, fast, and inexpensive way to resource a movement because it focuses on what already exists and is positive in nature.
  • It’s mostly (or completely) non-commercial. OANMs don’t typically involve financial transactions.

Whether you think before or after you listen, consider these questions that Peter Block asks in his great book, Community: The Structure of Belonging:

  1. What gift do you have that nobody knows about?
  2. What's the positive feedback you receive that still surprises you?
  3. What's the gift you have that you don't fully acknowledge?

Let the Offers and Needs Market match-making begin!

You're about to Learn ...

  • Five simple, powerful benefits of an Offers and Needs Market in any community.
  • Why your friends, family, and neighbors are counting on you to own your gifts.
  • How to elevate your own and other people's gifts.
  • Examples of the inspiring, hilarious, or practical offers and needs I've seen.
  • My favorite OANM match yet and how it helped a whole family for months.
  • The core difference between needs-based and asset-based community development.
  • The essential prep and housekeeping notes of an OANM.
  • How ABCD relates to OANM (it makes total sense when you listen).

Resources and Items Mentioned in This Episode

Timestamps and Topics

  • [03:58] Defining and contextualizing an Offers and Needs Market (OANM)
  • [10:07] Why and where to run or participate in an OANM
  • [16:59] My experiences running OANMs
  • [31:57] How to run an OANM
  • [49:46] Curiosities about virtual OANMs and some final encouraging words

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