Good Law Project: funny money

Back in November 2020, when Jolyon Maugham and his (Not Very) Good Law Project were launching new crowdfunded cases at the rate of more than one a month, the Guardian purred that the GLP “relies on crowdfunded donations of £10 or £20 from thousands of sympathetic supporters to pursue its cases”. But that’s not entirely true.

On 11 October 2022, the GLP launched a new crowdfunder – their 50th – in support of legal action on behalf of Nina Cresswell, who is being sued by a man she has publicly accused of sexually assaulting her 12 years ago. This stated that “so far we have spent £8,583 of our own funds getting legal advice for [Ms Cresswell], and defending her in court will cost a further £50,000”. And it set out an initial target of £30K, to be met within 30 days: “Your card will only be charged if the case meets its target of £30,000 by 1pm [on 10 November 2022]”.

In short, were that £30K target not to be met within 30 days, the donations pledged would not be drawn down, and yet another GLP campaign would have flopped. In June this year, a new GLP campaign to tackle ‘racism in schools’ was quickly abandoned after the associated crowdfunder failed to reach its initial £30K target, and the £13,690 of donations pledged were not drawn down.

Things got off to a flying start, as they usually do with such crowdfunders, and within a week – by 17 October – the Cresswell crowdfunder had raised a total of just under £10,600 from some 450 donors. But by 20 October the £10 and £20 pledges were drying up, and the crowdfunder had pretty much stalled at £10,767 from 498 donors (an average pledge of £21.62). At that point, the crowdfunder still needed more than £900 worth of pledges, every day, for another 21 days, if it were to reach its £30K target by 1pm on 10 November. But only a handful of small pledges were being made each day.

In other words, within ten days of its launch the crowdfunder was on track to fail to reach its initial target. So it was fortunate that, on 20 October, “someone” (Donor #499) anonymously pledged £4,233, the exact sum required to take the total to £15,000. And that, just three days later, after ten (small) pledges had nudged the total to £15,315, “someone” (Donor #510) anonymously pledged another £1,675, bumping the total to an even more respectable £16,990. (Maybe they intended to bump it to £17,000, but got their sums wrong. Whatever, “someone” soon tidied things up with a £10 pledge.)

These large, anonymous and curiously-sized pledges were also conveniently timed. Because, the next day, Monday 24 October, the GLP (or an ally) appears to have orchestrated some kind of ‘push’ of the crowdfunder to GLP supporters and/or potential donors, resulting in a steady stream, from about 2pm, of more than 150 small pledges (four out of five were for £25 or less, and the largest was for £100). Shortly before 10pm that evening the total passed £20,000 (from some 670 donors), but within 48 hours – by the morning of 26 October – things had once again settled down, with pledges at a total of £21,581 from 750 donors.

With 15 days to go, that still required a daily average of more than £550 worth of new pledges, if the crowdfunder were to hit its initial target of £30K. And, with the average pledge since Donor #510’s very generous £1,675 running at just £19, that implied another 30 pledges per day. But from 1pm on 26 October to 1pm today (27 October), the crowdfunder raked in just £385, from 20 donors.

So, once again, it was fortunate that, shortly before 2pm today, “someone” (Donor #781) anonymously pledged a stonking £7,824, the exact sum required to take the total to £30,000 (before Graham got in first with his £5 pledge).

As a result, the crowdfunder reached its £30K initial target with almost two weeks to spare. But no less than £13,732 (46%) of that £30K came from just three (presumably wealthy) donors. Though 778 little people did help out with their “£10 or £20 donations”.

Anyway, why not match “someone’s” donation of £7,824? Then reward yourself with a glass of Vin Santo and some cantuccini. Just be careful not to get any in your USB ports.

Update, 30 October: Well, “someone” (Donor #812) took me literally and, early today, they generously donated £8,550, the biggest donation yet and – once again – the exact sum required to take the total to the milestone of £39,000. As a result, no less than £22,282 (a whopping 57%) of that £39K has come from just four (presumably wealthy) donors. I do hope this “someone” rewarded themselves with a glass of Vin Santo.

Update, 2 November: Well, unlike the “donations of £10 and £20” – which have now almost completely dried up – the large, anonymous and curiously-sized donations keep coming. Of the £2,000 that’s been added to the crowdfunder’s running total since the £8,550 donation on 30 October, no less than 85% has come from just two of the 14 new donors – Donor #818 and Donor #826 – who pledged £890 on 31 October and £800 on 2 November respectively. (Excluding the six large pledges highlighted above, the average pledge to date is £20.76).

Update, 10 November: Today, at 1pm, was the original deadline for the crowdfunder to reach its critical, initial target of £30K. As noted above, the total amount pledged passed £30K almost two weeks ago, and at 1pm today it stood at £41,285. But no less than £23,972 (a whopping 58%) of that £41,285 came from just six anonymous pledges by up to six presumably wealthy donors. And, were it not for those six large pledges, then – other things being constant – the crowdfunder would have failed to reach its critical £30K target, the £17,313 of small pledges by 836 donors would not have been drawn down, and the Good Law Project would have been not very good, again.

Update, 22 December: So, those large, anonymous donations keep coming! As of yesterday, despite there having been no update on the defamation trial that was scheduled to start on 10 November, a slow trickle of small donations had nudged the total to £41,430. And then, today, donor #853 generously donated £570. Well, it is Christmas.

About wonkypolicywonk

Wonkypolicywonk is a policy minion, assigned wonky at birth, who has been lucky enough to work for two of the very best MPs in the House of Commons, and for Maternity Action, Working Families, Citizens Advice, the National Audit Office, the Law Society, and Amnesty International UK.
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1 Response to Good Law Project: funny money

  1. Pingback: Good Law Project: Binfire of the vanities | Labour Pains

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