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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Craigslist's $100K Donation Burned By Women's Group

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 4:20 PM

  • Burn baby burn.....
Burn baby burn.....
A San Francisco non-profit that helps previously incarcerated women burned a $100,000 check from Craigslist this week in a ritual ceremony, saying accepting the money would be profiting "from a place of exploitation of girls." 

The Center for Young Women's Development received the unsolicited check last Friday at their Folsom Street office, said executive director Marlene Sanchez. After much discussion and a phone conversation with Craigslist, the staff burned the check on Monday. Craigslist couldn't be immediately contact for comment Thursday about their donation going up in flames.

Sanchez says it was a hard decision to make during a recession at a

non-profit whose annual budget is about $800,000 culled from city

monies, private foundations, and individual donors. Yet they took a poll of six young women they work with and Sanchez says three of them knew someone who'd been trafficked in Craigslist sex ads. 

Sending off $100,000 to the great spirit.
  • Sending off $100,000 to the great spirit.
Sending off $100,000 to the great spirit.

"As an

organization of women that all grew up poor, when will we get the chance

for another $100,000?" Sanchez says. "But it was a chance to stand up

for what we believe in and say we won't be easily bought."


was the easiest $100,000 we'd ever gotten," she continued, saying the

letter stated it was a one-time grant and couldn't be used to influence

any sort of legislation or propaganda against Craigslist.  Sanchez said

the staff called Craigslist to ask some questions about their commitment to

continue supporting young women's organizations. "They were just

annoyed by our question and said other people would be happy to receive

it, and if we weren't happy we could just void the check."

They didn't just void it - they burned it, and Sanchez sent us the picture to prove it.

  • Would you do this?
Would you do this?

Craigslist shut down its adult services section earlier this month after intense pressure from Congress, state attorneys general, and womens' rights advocates. The classified behemoth's attorneys told a House Judiciary committee yesterday they had no intent to reopen the site. Still, the site's reps defended the sex ad section, saying shutting it down was a "step backward" in fighting sex trafficking.


San Francisco non-profit joined at least one other women's organization

that has rejected money from the web site. Earlier this summer, the

Washington, D.C.-based Center for Health and Gender Equity got a $25,000

check, but sent it back after seeing Craigslist's Chief

Executive Officer Jim Buckmaster's "testy replies to allegations that

the site facilitates sex trafficking," according to news reports.


says the site simply has not shown enough commitment to women's causes.

"That check came with a lot of other stresses. That same week, we got a

donation from [the Isabel Allende Foundation] for $500 and we were

jumping for joy. We know those are people who will give $500 this year

and $500 next year. [Craigslist's donation] is a one-time, don't ask

questions, just go away check."

As for the ceremony, Sanchez

says all the staffers touched the check to "put energy on it," some said

a prayer, and they burned it along with some sage. "We gave thanks

for the many blessings we've received," Sanchez says.

It's just that Craigslist's blessing won't be among them.

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Lauren Smiley


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