We have nominated Craig Newmark as our newest Huggable Person. While he is most known for founding craigslist.org, with its business model of “doing well by doing good,” we are also impressed by the work he is doing with non-profits through craigconnects: “Using technology to give the voiceless a real voice and the powerless real power.” Launched in 2011, craigconnects is, “his initiative to link up everyone on the planet using the Internet to bear witness to good efforts and encourage the same behavior in others.” And he plans to take the next decade to seeing where this project will lead us.
Who is Craig Newmark?
He calls himself a nerd, but he is a nerd with a purpose. Did you know that although he founded craigslist, he is not its CEO…he is a customer service rep, yes…really. This line in his bio drew me in, “I’ve done customer service from the beginning and am committed to it forever. It keeps me anchored to reality. Beyond that, I’ve learned a lot that can be applied to the common good and I’m doing that on this site [craigconnects.org].”
Among the almost 100 or so non-profit projects he’s been involved with include donorschoose.org – teachers can put their classroom project on-line and people can fund it over time; The Sunlight Foundation which fosters a network of websites that help keep governments accountable to the people, especially regarding money; and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to help ensure that veterans get the educational benefits they deserve.
Qu) Cathy Larkin: What does philanthropic public service mean to you? What do you hope to accomplish by getting involved with non-profits?
An) Craig Newmark: It means standing up for the causes I believe in, and for the nonprofits and people doing good work for those causes.
My focus in on the grassroots level, helping people getting on with their lives.
For example, I support the people who give a break to military families and veterans. Less than one per cent of Americans volunteer to go overseas to protect us all, and a guy like me needs to stand up for them.
Qu) Cathy Larkin: What do you hope people do when they visit craigconnects.org? What do you want people to “get” or understand? What actions do you want them to take when they visit the site?
An) Craig Newmark: In the short-term, I hope they support the efforts I support. That could be volunteer work, cash or other contributions, or even social media like Facebook Likes.
Longer term, I’d like to inspire people to support the efforts that they believe in. Everyone has their own idea what the common good is, and I’m happy if people act in good will even if I’d disagree.
Qu) Cathy Larkin: What drives you to want to reach out and help others and make a difference in the larger world through helping non-profits? Or in other words…what makes you “different” as we are defining it…different in the way you treat others, take on projects that are larger than yourself – that make a difference in the larger world etc.
A) Craig Newmark: My motivation is some sense that this is the time in human history where everyone can have a voice, via the Internet, and we should use it to help everyone else out.
Usually, that means supporting some nonprofit, but there are other means, like politics, or just helping someone like by opening the door for them.
Nothing makes me different, except maybe my focus on the mundane, the down to earth the practical.
Hear about Craig Newmark in His Own Words:
Click here to see a brief video that tells Criag’s story from nerd, to founder of craigslist.org, to founder of craigconnects.org. He also includes some useful tips for non-profits and social entrepreneurs, plus tips for regular folks urging us to use social media for good and to help those doing good in the world to get the word out. If you know of a non-profit doing good out there, he urges us to get involved or at least to…share, tweet, blog or pin your experience and let others know about it.
On to the Fun Questions:
- Give us a link to a favorite blog post of yours that might be of interest to our readers:
- [Cathy: I actually chose this one]: Share Your Experience About a Nonprofit to Help Others Learn About It.
- Favorite quote and from whom?
- Answer: Oscar Wilde: “If you want to tell people the truth, make ‘em laugh. Otherwise, they’ll kill you.”
- When you take break from work, where will we most likely find you where or doing what?
- Answer: What is “a break from work”? Is it like “time off”?
- If you could take your staff, company or friends and family anywhere in the world for a four-day weekend (at no cost and with no loss of business), where would you take them?
- Answer: (See above)
- Something fun or surprising people might not know about you.
- Answer: I don’t do “fun,” but surprising… I still have scars and prosthetics from trying ballet in my twenties, to meet women.
- A website/blog, or item/product that you consider fun, intriguing or “huggable?”
- Answer: Well, I’m real fond of squirrels, and there was a Washington Post item recently about the language of squirrels. I can dig up a video I shot of a squirrel letting folks know what’s what.
- What’s one blog that you read for fun, enjoyment, or just because you like it?
- Answer: I like io9.com, relating to science fiction. I’m a nerd, after all…
And a “huggable” one at that!
Connect with Craig on one of his sites, or on Twitter @craignewmark
Connect with us on Twitter @huggablepeople