Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.org and collector of golf caps, announced Tuesday the launch of his new project, CraigConnects.org. The overarching goal of the site is a bit nebulous--Newmark describes it as an effort to connect and protect non-profits and other organizations across the Web. To what end, he doesn't really say. But he does employ a lot of feel-good language, such as "I need your help" and "together we can make a difference."
To be clear, the site isn't a fundraising or grant-making organization. While the details are still a little fuzzy, the site seems to operate as a kind of database for non-profits and causes. Visitors can browse among different organizations by category, including community building, journalism integrity, Middle East, open and accountable government, service and volunteering, technology for social good, and veterans issues. The home page will also periodically feature an organization. Currently, the featured non-profit is DonorsChoose.org.
Newmark is better known for his creation of the popular local classifieds database Craigslist.org. Though incorporated in 1999 as a for-profit, Craigslist, which Newmark created in 1995, still bears the ".org" domain as a symbol of the company's self-described "non-commercial nature, public service mission, and non-corporate culture."
Newmark describes his new endeavor as "the biggest thing in my life" and plans to commit the next 20 years to the project. Why 20 years exactly, he doesn't say... But he goes on to explain his reason for creating the site:
"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. It’s a voice for the grassroots, the rank-and-file, for people who never had a voice until now," adding: "My strong gut feeling is that this isn’t altruism, at least not for me, it’s just what feels right."
In the grand scheme of things, the site's vision is to rally everyone (EVERYONE) in the world together for the common good via the Internet. This is what leads me to believe that Newmark went straight from writing this down on a napkin to launching the site, which doesn't seem to be addressing a specific need. At present, there's no explanation as to how the site is vetting organizations, why categories are limited to that handful of topics (nothing related to the environment, animals, health, gay rights, etc.), or whether the site will offer a service whereby users will be able to connect with local organizations if they want to volunteer or donate goods.
The site is a noble effort and with Newmark's savvy, it's sure to develop a more concrete form over time, but for now, it looks like it's still in an embryonic do-good phase.
Image source: craigconnects.org