I have re-opened this briefly simply because some people got in touch after the funds had been allocated. These are more freelancers owed money for work they have done. Also some people asked if it was still possible to give. It seemed a no-brainer to keep it open a little longer to try to benefit these extra people. I am going to close it once and for all on 24 March. If you know anyone who wants to give before then please share this with them.
In the meantime all 68 people who originally registered are currently being paid amounts that vary between £45 to £2,467 based on a fair percentage of what they are owed.
Thank you so much to everyone for their support.
The Pool was a daily must read for so many of us and what made that the case was its amazing staff and freelance writers. Now the Pool has gone into administration many freelancers haven't been paid for months worth of commissions and the staff haven't been paid for their last month's work.
I paid The Pool £3 a month but I would have paid much more to keep it going. Now that's no longer an option I at least want to make sure that the writers who have given me so much joy and taught me so much can be paid at least some of what they're owed.
This fundraising is entirely separate to whatever is being done by the administrators to ensure those who are owed money are paid. It is in no way affiliated with The Pool. I have never written for The Pool or been involved in it professionally though I do know many of the staff and freelancers and at least one of my clients is owed money by The Pool (though this is not work that was organised by me and I have never earned any money from any association with The Pool). All money raised here will go directly to the staff and freelancers who are owed money. None will be taken by me. None will go anywhere near the administrators.
How much do we need to raise?
I have set a fairly arbitrary target of £24,000. There are 24 staff and a lot of freelancers. I don't currently know how much money everyone is owed but it is an awful lot more than £24,000. But I equally didn't want to set a very high target and have it seem impossible. In an ideal world we would raise at least double the target preferably much much more. But let's see how we get along. Whatever we raise I'll make sure it reaches those who need it (see below for more on this).
I am a literary agent. As such I am used to handling money on behalf of others. Though obviously I won't be taking any commission from what is raised here. As well as running my own agency, Kingsford Campbell, I work with Nikesh Shukla on the 'Good' projects: The Good Immigrant, a book of essays on race and immigration by 21 writers of colour, which we successfully crowdfunded and became a bestselling book; The Good Journal, a monthly journal showcasing writers of colour, which we successfully crowdfunded; The Good Literary Agency, a literary agency which explicitly exists to represent under-represented writers and is supported by Arts Council England.
How the money will be handled
Once the fundraising is complete the money will be transferred to my company's client account. This is where money owed to our clients is paid by publishers and from where we pay them directly. We will pay the staff and writers who are owed money directly from this account and take no commission. We will cover the admin fees of doing this so all the money you pay will go to the writers. We are very experienced at paying writers.
I know quite a few of the staff and freelancers. I will use this network to make contact with everyone and gather details of what they are owed. Obviously this is entirely voluntary and any staff or freelancers who don't wish to be part of this don't have to be.
When do we need the money?
Some staff and freelancers won't know how they're going to pay next month's rent. Some it will be a very sad loss but will survive. I would like to try to do this fast so that we can help those who really need it not feel quite so anxious about the immediate future so the more we raise quickly the better.
What if we don't raise very much money?
It would still mean that something reached the staff and freelancers who need it. We would work out a system so that staff were fairly paid a % of what they are owed though I would personally also like to ensure that those most in need ie don't know how they're going to pay their rent are prioritised.
What if we raise more than everyone is owed?
Staff are not only out of pocket for a month's salary but also have no jobs so if what we raise isn't a great deal more than what everyone is owed I would like to pay it to staff who would have been owed redundancy.
If it is a lot more than that then maybe we can buy The Pool and keep it running! (Ok I would love this to happen but I don't think it's realistic so if we were to actually raise more than we needed we would donate it to a suitable cause which I would canvas contributors who I have the contact details of via your donations, perhaps to Sali Hughes' Beauty Bank, to a Period Poverty charity or to something else which is true to the ethos of why we all loved the Pool and why we want to support the writers.
What happens at the end?
I will produce an account of where all the money has gone. This will anonymise individuals so they will be known as, say, Freelancer1, Freelancer2 etc and everyone who has contributed will be able to see where the money has gone.
What are the risks?
To you they are about trusting me to fairly deal with your money and make sure that it reaches the right people. I hope that my background will assure you that I am both capable of handling it properly, have the right systems in place and will make sure it all reaches the right people. As well as my personal relationship with some of those involved and that if I were to deal unfairly in relation to this then it would damage my reputation and therefore my ongoing career and with that my own future earnings.
We all have to trust that we aren't going to be conned by writers claiming money they aren't owed but I believe that this is a group of people who simply wouldn't do that. But more practically I also believe that the network around this is small enough and efficient enough to mitigate against that.
To me the risks are that this is complicated administratively and will take a considerable commitment from me to make happen. But that is something I am prepared to do because I believe that writers should be paid when we have enjoyed their work and I want to do what I can to make that happen in this instance. I have worked on many complex projects so I do know what I'm doing and the level of commitment I have to make.
So I think the biggest risks to me are
1. Raising not very much and it being an awful lot of administration to pay people not very much money each
2. Raising too much money and having more administration to make sure it is dealt with appropriately
You are welcome to message me on twitter @juliakingsford and my DMs are open if you have anything you want to discuss in relation to this.
I will be endeavouring to reach out to everyone who works at or freelanced at the Pool but equally please get in touch with me if that is you.
I know most of us won't be able to give very much but please give what you can if you enjoyed the Pool and believe in paying writers. And please share to others who you know loved it too. We would need 8000 people to give £3 to get to our target. But The Pool was read and loved by hundreds of thousands. And anyone who can give more than £3 will help us get there much more quickly (we only need 4000 people if everyone gives £6!).
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