NeedLink Nashville
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3900 West End Avenue visit us at the N. Wilson Blvd. entry of Westminster Presbyterian Church
Nashville, TN 37205
Organization Details



NeedLink Nashville helps our neighbors meet their most basic needs in times of crisis by providing short-term financial assistance for rent and utilities, while also linking clients to other available resources.


In the winter of 1912, the head of the local Business Man's Association and the business manager for The Nashville Tennessean had a simple idea. City leaders would sell a special edition of the paper to raise money for those in need. Calling themselves the "Big Brothers," they used the funds to deliver Christmas Eve food baskets to residents of Nashville's Tin City, Railroad Gulch, and Black Bottom slums. Since then, their annual tradition has greatly expanded. In the 1930's, the Big Brothers began to assist disadvantaged residents with year-round grocery coupons, coal and heating oil. They gave thousands of gallons of milk for local school children who would have gone without.

At Nashville General Hospital, they subsidized a penicillin bank and an incubator for premature babies. At Vanderbilt, they donated a polio therapy pool and the city's first kidney dialysis machine. When Nashville opened new housing projects in the 1960's and 70's, the Big Brothers bought the required furniture for families. They helped Nashvillians whose homes were devastated by the 1998 tornado and the 2010 flood. Since 2020 we have helped with the tornados of early March and the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, we helped many adjust or relocate due to drastic rent increases in Nashville combined with inflation.

The organization is still fueled by volunteers, civic organizations, religious groups, and business leaders who come together to help neighbors with their most critical needs. Year-round, NeedLink helps families, seniors, those with disabilities and veterans to remain in stable housing and receive critical services during a crisis.


NeedLink Nashville receives more referrals from United Way's 2-1-1 helpline than any other Middle Tennessee non-profit.

Each year we help thousands of Nashville-area residents meet their most basic needs in times of crisis. Many receive emergency aid to remain in stable housing with critical utility services. With funding limitations, we are able to help about 40% to 60% of those who apply. Families with young children, seniors, people with disabilities, victims of crime and those who have experienced a natural disaster, receive the highest priority when our committee decides how to use limited funds. NeedLink works actively with The United Way of Greater Nashville's Financial Assistance Network to collaborate, share data, and model best practices. We also maintain communications with other social service agencies, so that our emergency assistance programs are part of a larger solution for people facing poverty, financial crisis, and other challenges to housing stability.

NeedLink responded immediately in March 2020 to the unprecedented need caused by tornadoes, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the floods which followed.

In Fiscal Years 20-21 and 21-22, we were able to assist 23,677 Nashville families experiencing a financial crisis, keeping them in their homes.

In FY23, we approved 4404 requests, assisted 3827 households, and made over 2,800 referrals. We received 7827 requests for assistance and were able to approve 56% of those requests.
On average, this equates to 652 a month, with 366 of those approved.
Weekly, this equates to 151 a week with 85 of those approved.


Here's How You Can Help:

Donate. A gift of $250 to $500 will keep a family in their home when eviction is imminent or prevent disconnection from essential utilities. A greater gift will help multiple families.

Volunteer. Our largest volunteer need is for NeedLink's annual Rudolph's Red Nose Run. Several years ago, our Run coincided with The Nashville Christmas Parade for 40 years! The Christmas Parade has not been staged for several years, but our race has happened each December. Watch for information about our 2023 Run!

Serve. NeedLink's Board of Directors seeks members interested in building relationships. We need leadership from individuals with specific expertise with human resources, legal matters, finance, board governance, fund development and event management. We also welcome leaders from volunteer civic and service organizations as representatives in service on our Board.

To donate, volunteer, or learn more please contact Lee Anne Wills at

CEO Statement

Thank you, Nashville. Since 1912 we have made this city a better place to live with the simple belief that all Nashvillians deserve the security of shelter and warmth and that we all can make a difference by working together. We have a rich history in the community. As of 2023, we have cared for those who were most in need for 111 years--more than a century of care for families when on the verge of losing their home, being evicted, or losing connection to utilities in the event of an unforeseen crisis.

We are grateful for Nashville's thoughtful and generous civic organizations (our primary founders), corporate and family foundations, companies-small and large, and Nashville's most gracious individual donors who have helped us provide our services for 111 years as of 2023! It is heartwarming to receive gifts from the families of those who were Nashville's Big Brothers! Our Rudolph's Red Nose Runners and Walkers show such commitment each year. We depend upon the generosity of each of these to carry out our mission in Nashville.

We have wonderful relationships with our 60 partner organizations that come to us when they know of someone who would benefit from our assistance program. We "link" our clients to other non-profits with resources beyond the services we provide.

Our city's generosity makes a difference for the family bringing home their first baby and for the veteran who has been hospitalized after a stroke. We help the elderly gentleman with no family members to care for him and the teenage mother in need of a place to live after leaving an abusive relationship. Every day, Nashvillians are faced with the unexpected. They may lose a job or have their hours reduced. The car they use to get to work breaks down. Unanticipated health issues arise. These neighbors arrive at our door, anxiously grasping an eviction or cut-off notice.

In 2020 our neighbors survived the horrific damage of tornados and were without a home, business, or employment in an instant. All Nashvillians were affected by COVID-19 with many losing their jobs and having their wages significantly reduced. Others had the added responsibility of childcare when daycare facilities and schools closed. A Christmas bombing downtown destroyed homes and closed businesses. A flood followed shortly after. Our clients have been the victims of these tragedies. NeedLink Nashville has been there to ensure that the most vulnerable of our community have a place to turn for help in times of everyday emergency or community crisis.

Board Chair Statement

Nashville is a very special place to live, and we all have a great deal to be grateful for in our city. When unforeseen and unfortunate events arise, our community is thankfully full of kind-hearted, generous people like those who work for and support NeedLink Nashville - people who are willing to step in and lend a hand to those in need.

The NeedLink Board of Directors is so very proud to be a part of the outstanding work being done by Lee Anne Wills and her team and we have seen first-hand the difference being made in people's lives - every day. The hard reality is that there are still many, many others that need our help.

While we are well-known for keeping the electricity on for our neighbors, our NeedLink team does so much more. We are a smiling face with a helpful attitude when you seek us out. We are the knowledge to help mitigate the immediate need but also address the larger issues in an impactful way. We are client-based so dignity is maintained throughout the process.

Simply put, our team at NeedLink has a passion for helping people in a thoughtful way. On behalf of our Board of Directors, thank you for your support as we continue to help lift up our neighbors in need.

Service Categories

Primary Category: Housing, Shelter  - Housing Expenses Reduction Support 
Secondary Category: Human Services  - Emergency Assistance (Food, Clothing, Cash) 
Tertiary Category: Human Services  - Financial Counseling 

Areas Served

Nashville and Davidson County residents, as well as NES customers in surrounding counties.

TN - Davidson