The Center for Young Women’s Development, is an organization that serves at-risk women and like many SF non-profits, could definitely use a charitable donation check of $100,000. But if that check is coming from Craigslist, Director Marlene Sanchez, would rather burn it. Literally.
Following suit with multiple non-profits that have recently refused monetary donations from the Craigslist Charitable Fund, Sanchez claims that Craigslist has not taken enough action in eradicating sex trafficking. The popular buy-and-sell-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink website has come under fire in the last few months for their “Adult Services” section, which multiple human rights and anti-trafficking say encourages sex trafficking of women and children.
Craigslist made over $30 million with their adult services ads this year, and was well on the way to making $44 million in 2010, before they pulled the ads, according to a report by the AIM Group. The company shut down their sex-related advertising in the U.S., thanks to pressure applied by 17 attorney generals and a slew of negative press, but possibly still faces a class-action lawsuit brought on by international non-profit, the Fair Fund.
Sanchez is convinced that Craigslist is targeting her organization simply to improve their tarnished image. “When I get a grant, it’s a partnership,” she said. “Someone says, ‘We believe in your work and we want to support it.’ It was clear that with Craigslist, that wasn’t the case. They didn’t really know who we were or what we do.”
According to Mission Local, when Sanchez contacted Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, and asked if the donation was sincere, and if Craigslist wanted to join forces with her organization, she was greeted with annoyance and a response from Buckmaster that other people would have been ecstatic to receive the money. (A email to Buckmaster from the Appeal received no response at publication time.)
In response, Sanchez reasoned that accepting the donation could potentially destroy her non-profit’s long-term relationships with other organizations. She dropped the check into burning sage and copal, during a cleansing and energizing ritual in the courtyard of the non-profit’s headquarters.
Craigslist was rebuffed at least twice over earlier this year, when Minneapolis-based Advocates for Human Rights and the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington D.C. each returned their $25,000 check to the Craigslist Charitable Fund. “When their profits are coming from the exploitation of children and women, to turn around and donate proceeds to organizations like ours was inappropriate,” said executive director of Advocates for Human Rights, Robin Philips.