Reducing Craigslist Flakes

Ever try to give something away on Craigslist and had to deal with people flaking out on you? You’ll get the initial ‘Is it still available?’ barrage of emails and you never hear from them again. Or you’ll agree to a time and place for them to pick up the item and they don’t show up. It’s so frustrating I came to dread what should have been an easy act, giving something away.

At least part of the reason that this happens is that the other person has nothing at ‘risk’. It’s easy to send an initial email. It’s easy to agree to a place and time. If they don’t show up, it’s no skin off their back. After this happened to me a couple times, I came up with a potential solution. Make the other person demonstrate their commitment to picking up the item by having them donate a token amount of money to a charity and then sending you the receipt. Here’s an email I used recently when giving away a piece of furniture:


Thank you for your interest in the furniture. It’s still available! I’m flexible with dates and times; I’m sure we can agree on something soon.

Have you ever sold or given anything away on Craigslist? If so, you know that many people will flake out and never show up. I’m running an experiment with this listing. To show that you’re serious in these end tables, I’d like you to make a small donation to a charity. You get to pick which charity; PayPal makes it easy to do so:

Just pick a charity, make a $5 donation, and then email me some proof of that. The proof could be the email receipt you received from PayPal, or it could be the charity receipt from them. Anything that proves you made the donation. Once you do that, we’ll set up a time for you to pick up the end tables. You get to feel good about helping a charity, and I know that you’re serious about picking up these end tables.

If you are not interested in doing this, please let me know and I’ll move on to the next person who’s interested in the end tables. Also, if I don’t hear back from you one way or the other within the next 1 hour, I’ll assume you’re not interested and will move on to the next person.

Regardless, any feedback you have about this idea of making a charitable donation to show interest in this listing would be greatly appreciated.



It worked for me. If you try it, please let me know how it goes!


  1. Michael Dunn says:

    Excellent idea, thanks! And looking forward to trying groups…will be trying a fairly big migrate from YG. Hope you can do pix & files soon too.

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