craigconnects: Connecting the World for the Common Good

Craig's Blog

When I Got My Philanthropic Act Together

4 years of craigconnects

Hey folks, I started doing a lot of philanthropic stuff around 2000 or so, after getting a good sense of my personal mission. This was around the same time people helped my understand that, as a manager, I kinda suck, and decided I was much better devoting myself (at CL) to customer service.

Several years ago, I decided to get my philanthropic act together, ultimately to help everyone have a voice and even power via the Internet.


Here's what doing good has looked like at craigconnects the past 4 years…

Crowdfunding Charity Challenges

  • Holiday Challenges – I really believe in giving back (always have). It's important to collaborate, help one another, and create the change we want, and that takes time. It's really important to give back to our communities.
    • Since I first started supporting the CrowdRise's annual Holiday Challenge in 2013, a total of $6.4 million + has been raised for charities creating real change.
    • Some of the top winners have included:
      • Cure JM Foundation, which helps advance Juvenile Myositis (JM) research, a rare and life-threatening autoimmune condition affecting mostly children.
      • US Friends of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who supports and cares for orphaned elephants in Africa.
      • Hope and Opportunity Through Literacy supports education and health programs for the poor living in Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Portugal, and the United States.
      • Wildlife SOS, who's responsible for taking action against animal cruelty, rescuing wildlife in distress, working to resolve man-animal conflicts while promoting and educating the public about the need for habitat protection.
  • Veterans Charity Challenge – It's my philosophy that if someone's willing to serve overseas and risk taking a bullet for me, I should give back at least a little. Also, everyone should remember that it's not only a troop serving, it's also their family who gives up a lot for all of us.
    • Since we started the Veterans Charity Challenge in 2013, a total of $793K + has been raised for nonprofits that really have their boots on the ground supporting America's heroes, including vets and their families.
    • Some of the top winners have included:
      •  Warrior Canine Connection (WCC), who utilizes clinically based Canine Connection Therapy to empower returning combat Veterans who have sustained physical and psychological wounds while in service to our country.
      • Dogs on Deployment, which gives military members peace of mind concerning their pets during their service commitments by providing them with the ability to find people and resources able to help them.
      • Leave No Veteran Behind (LNVB), which focuses on innovative educational debt relief scholarship, community service, employment training, and job placement programs. LNVB invests in heroes who have honorably served our nation and seek to continue their service as productive citizens in their communities.
      • Honoring the Path of the Warrior, which provides returning veterans a safe environment and enables them to rediscover meaning, purpose, and joy in their lives through mindfulness, meditation, and community.
    • Upcoming: Stay tuned for the 2015 Veterans Charity Challenge.
  • Infographic – Cracking the Crowdfunding Code, We researched and released this data to show you just how effective and accessible crowdfunding can be. Crowdfunding raised more than $5B worldwide in 2013, and peer-to-peer nonprofit fundraising for charities is seeing explosive growth.


  • Bottom line: (to reiterate,) if someone volunteers to risk taking a bullet to protect me, I should stand up and help out. This might date back to my mid-teens, towards the end of the Vietnam war. I saw returning vets getting treated without respect. At that time, I knew that was wrong, but couldn't articulate it.
  • Nerd-in-Residence: The Department of Veterans Affairs has named me "Nerd-in-Residence." You can find more under VA team bios > Craig Newmark. Far as my team's concerned, this makes me the biggest nerd in the USA…maybe the world.

Journalism Integrity

Voter Suppression and Voting Efforts

  • Bottom line: My deal is that people across the world remind me that the US really is "the shining city on the hill." I really feel seriously that this really is our civic duty, a shared responsibility to our communities and families to vote.Some politicians have tried to manipulate voting laws for their benefit, that's not right. We need integrity in our elections and voting that's free, fair, and accessible.
  • InfographicThink You Have the Right to Vote? Not So Much! – This is about voter protection, and I've continued to support efforts to make sure everyone has a fair chance to vote.
  • InfographicExtra, Extra, Read All About It – The poll we conducted to create this infographic addressed the question, do people still trust the news during election season?

Women in Tech

  • Bottom line: Women and girls still face a lot of obstacles in shaping technologies. The digital gender divide might be getting worse. Women and girls everywhere are missing, underrepresented, and dropping out from technology fields.As a result, today's tech – and increasingly today's world – does not reflect the diversity of women's experiences or ingenuity.This isn't fair, it's not treating people like you want to be treated.
  • My team and I make an effort to highlight folks who are the real deal. Here are just a few lists of women creating change:
  • InfographicThe Rise of Online Harassment – This released data about how prevalent and harmful online harassment is. You might not be surprised to learn that women are harassed more often than men. One thing that the majority agreed on was that the current laws about online and in-person harassment either aren't strong enough or are nonexistent.
  • Upcoming: I'm supporting the Women Startup Challenge and TeleSummit. This is something you can get involved with in the next month.

Tech for Good and Public Diplomacy

  • Bottom line: Folks who are in working for good in the public sector are the real deal. Public teachers are a great case, doing mission critical work for little recognition and less pay. Once in a while they find students they prize, who show real promise, and that can be rewarding. Otherwise, it can be a tough life, worse when you feel the need to pay out-of-pocket for needed supplies, like pens and paper, with low pay. If you want to help, check out
  • I support the Ekialo Kiona Center (EK Center) and the Organic Health Response, and they're creating real change. I get updates every so often, and I like to share the good work they're doing. They seek to activate information technology, social solidarity, and environmental sustainability to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS across Lake Victoria (in Kenya).

My team and I have supported lots of issues over the last four years, and will continue living by the philosophy "doing well by doing good" for the next twenty, or more. One of those efforts is supporting the work Roya Mahboob's doing to teach Afghani girls about technology (important and dangerous work).

The big thing I've learned here is that for me, tech skills and money aren't what gets the job done. What works is bearing witness to the good works of others. This can work partly through helping 'em get their social networks going, by sharing their stuff and supporting their work.

#20yrscraigslist: respecting boundaries while helping out

ordinary people

During the last ten years it’s sunk in that I should do more and more to help people out. Doing customer service, somehow, helps me understand that such help should be done respectfully and effectively. Customer service also helps me understand my own limitations.

Years of reflection helps me understand that I could never help people as much as groups who do nothing but help out in a specific area. That is, if I find a group who’s really good at doing something, I should help ‘em and otherwise stay outta the way.

That support comes in providing the support they really need, which is generally some combination of influence, expertise, and money.

In practice that means that I might speak up in favor of effective organizations by posting something. Either I’ll write something myself, or I’ll post references to their postings, or both.

Another way to share influence is to quietly connect people doing that good work to people who’re genuinely influential, who might actually have some grip on the levers of power.

It’s also very useful to share expertise in communications, which includes ideas regarding branding, identity, and marketing. I’m a nerd, which suggests that I really might not want to do that, it’s a crime against nature. However, I’m finding that such expertise is very expensive, and the bar is low when it comes to orgs including nonprofits and government groups. By that standard, I can provide useful advice, and that’s effective.

Finally, such groups are chronically short on finance, that’s to say, cash. I can help out a little. (People ask me how I go about figuring out what causes I really believe in and what’s the most effective way to support those efforts. Here’s how I do that…)

This is to say that I spend my social capital and financial capital on people in organizations who know how to get stuff done. That respects boundaries; I don’t presume to have the ground truth in any area. It also acts as a force multiplier, where my limited resources are amplified by people who know what they’re doing.

You’ll see me practicing this in areas that I really believe in, like:

Each of these is a long story, a story for other posts.

Why I support areas including these is also a story for another time.

Here, my deal is that twenty years of customer service has got me to thinking that I really do have some social and financial capital that I don’t need, and that I should use it for stuff I believe it.

It should be used effectively for that.

This is not altruistic, it’s just that I’m doing what I feel I should be doing.

You can cue up my usual, that “a nerd’s gotta do…”

20 years of craigslist, a reflection by an old-school nerd


Sunday school, over fifty years ago, I learn that I should know when enough is enough.

In 1999, I re-articulate that to myself: no one needs a billion dollars.

A year later, people help me understand that, as a manager, I suck. So, I hire someone smarter than me to run the company, and stick with customer service.

Few years ago, as I grow useless, I see that everyone else in customer service is smarter than me, and maybe I need a break from abuse. So, I focus on lightweight customer service.

(Most of my time otherwise is public service and philanthropy.)

Everyday, I’m reminded that we help people put food on the table, help people get jobs and a place to live. Maybe we have changed the world, seriously.

Sure, this isn’t the usual approach in Silicon Valley or anywhere else, but I’m a nerd, and…

Nerd’s gotta do what a nerd’s gotta do.


Female Founders Take On the Startup World

Hey, this past weekend my team and I were really impressed by the tweets from the #FemaleFounders Conference. This is the real deal. Y Combinator, founded by Jessica Livingston and Paul Graham, just hosted the second Female Founders Conference, where women shared their stories and practical advice for building a company.

If you're ready to take action, another event coming up that's focused on Women Startups will be the Women Startup Challenge and TeleSummit, hosted by Women Who Tech. You can get involved.

As a nerd, and I've said this before, I don't believe in settling, I believe people should be treated fairly. And that's still not happening. With events like these we are headed in the right direction, though.

There was some really good advice coming outta the hashtag #FemaleFounders, so my team and I put together a Storify to put some of our favorites in one place (folks, it was really tough to only choose a few).

Here are some highlights that stuck out:

bgc fund review

You can read the rest of the Storify here.

Were you at the conference? Or were you following along? I'd appreciate it if you shared some of your favorite quotes and advice. This is another step in the right direction…