When you think of crowdfunding, you may immediately think of teams seeking funding for a cool, new gadget or an independent film. But for British startup CrowdJustice, the goal is something a bit more noble. Even in countries with independent, reputable judicial systems, access to money can sometimes make legal battles somewhat unequal (or not even worth fighting for those of lesser means).
The service works like other crowdfunding platforms, allowing people to submit a case and attempt to raise funds within a set period of time. It is all-or-nothing, so those submitting a donation can receive a refund if the campaign falls short. The platform allows users to submit information on the case (be it background information, details on how the money would be spent, a timeline of the case) and solicit donations for various purposes. Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, which may offer donors rewards for their contributions, the reward in cases like this comes from the satisfaction of helping an ordinary person take on a much larger and more powerful entity and potentially achieve justice. Startups need money to operate, naturally, and CrowdJustice has opted to take a 5% commission from successful campaigns.
What is interesting about this project is that the founder, Julia Salasky gave up a prestigious job as a U.N. prosecutor with regard to war crimes, among other things, to join an environmental NGO and, later, to create this platform in an attempt to give regular people a fighting chance against powerful interests. She tells me that, for now, they are bootstrapping the project, as they decided that they could get a no-frills platform up and running without incurring significant costs. She says that they are currently focused on the British market, but are open to the idea of expanding internationally if their model proves to be a success. CrowdJustice only launched last week, so they are currently reluctant to release information regarding their total number of users.