However angry we feel about apparent inaction before the Grenfell Tower disaster it is hard not to feel humbled by the response since. The streets around the Tower yesterday were filled with people donating their time – and also the result of many thousands of generous donations of clothes and household goods and food.
And the donations continue to pile up in the many crowd-funding sites.
Of the many challenges ahead, one is how to distribute those donations? How do you ensure they go to the right people? How do you match the need for speedy distribution of money to those in need with the need to ensure the money ends up in the right hands? This poses real challenges for even large organisations – but experience tells us it can be a cause of real concern to individuals whose fundraising efforts have raised, sometimes, very substantial sums of money indeed.
It also poses challenges for the crowd funding sites themselves. Whatever protocols they have in place there are reputational risks if those monies are misused.
To that end, I spoke to James Kessler QC yesterday and asked him whether he would be prepared to draft a trust deed. You might think of a trust as being a kind of strict legal guarantee that monies will only be used for the purposes of the trust.
This morning he forwarded to me a Deed and a Note on that Deed.
A few points on the Deed:
(1) I am in discussions with one of the major crowdfunding sites which is supportive of this initiative. I hope to be able to say which site later today.
(2) If that site is able to support the initiative we may also ask it to set up a page enabling donations to be made directly to the trust.
(3) The initial trustees – for the sake of speed – will be myself and PJ Kirby QC. Although there is provision in the Deed (as is normal) for professional trustees to be paid, neither I nor PJ will take any payment.
(4) Obviously it is desirable that the Trustees include key community stakeholders. And, should the Trust be taken up we will look to appoint them as additions to or replacements for PJ and myself.
(5) If you are someone who has crowdfunded and would like the trust to administer the monies you have raised, please write to me at [email protected]. If you do ask the trust to administer those monies we will obviously have regard to the purposes for which you raised those monies and how you would like them to be distributed. We cannot agree to be bound by your views as to how they should be distributed.
(6) We would especially like to hear from people who have experience of establishing and administering such trust funds, especially if you have immediate capacity. If your situation is such that you need to be paid, please state that too. Please contact us at [email protected] with a short CV.
(7) If you are a crowdfunding site that would like to avail yourself of this facility to help your fundraisers please also let us know.
Jolyon Maugham QC
Director, Good Law Project