Craig Newmark might be best known as the founder of the online classifieds service Craigslist, but now he has decided to put his notoriety and connections to a different use with the launch of craigconnects, a new site where non-profits, socially-responsible, and sustainability-oriented organizations can meet up, make connections, and work together on community-building and social progress causes.
“I guess I got myself a ‘bully pulpit’ of sorts that I don’t really want or need, but it’s good for getting the word out about people of good will who get stuff done,” said Newmark, in a statement. “I’ve been doing this for nonprofits, but much more informally, for maybe 10 years, applying a lot of what I’ve learned doing customer service for craigslist,” said Craig. “Now I think it’s time to get deadly serious.”
Newmark emphasizes that craigconnects is a separate effort from Craigslist itself, and will not serve as a fund-raising or grant-giving platform: rather, the goal of the site is to call attention to nonprofits that make a real difference in the world, as well “connect and protect” organizations that engage in social responsible activities. Of course, one person’s definition of “socially responsible” is another person’s definition of “socially irresponsible,” and it will be interesting to see how Newmark and crew deal with disagreements—which could easily run from name-calling and internecine bickering to trolling and outright attacks.
At launch, the site features organizations focusing on the use of social media for social progress, transparent and accountable government, veterans issues, community service, and peace in the Middle East. Site visitors can submit recommendations for other organizations to be added to the list. The site will also serve as a mechanism to solicit Newmark as a speaker and “social media champion.”
Although Newmark founded Craigslist and is believed to maintain a significant ownership stake in the operation, he maintains he hasn’t had a management role in Craigslist in more than a decade, instead spending his time in customer support.