Crowdfund a salary & expenses for Marcus J Ball
(Founder of #BrexitJustice)
I crowdfunded £145,000 to launch a private prosecution against dishonest UK politicians in wake of Brexit (Link). I’ve signed up some top lawyers and they’re working away on building up the case. My job is now to communicate progress to backers and the press as well as handle a lot of research and general administration. My biggest responsibility is to raise far more funding for the case, potentially more than £2 million, which involves a lot of planning, pitching and networking.
In order to do this I need to live and work in central London full time, which I currently am. However, I’ve run out of personal credit card and bank overdraft ‘funding’ after working for 3 months without a salary. I have no choice, I now need to crowdfund a salary for myself.
Here is my previous crowdfund: http://www.brexitjustice.com/ (check out the updates section)
Contents (more detail):
1- Who am I?
2- What do I want to achieve?
3- What have I achieved so far?
4- What is my current living situation?
5- What risks are there to me?
6- Why should it be me that takes on this risk?
7- Why am I crowdfunding a salary? (Quotes from backers)
8- Why can’t I just get a normal job whilst I do this in my spare time?
9- What don’t I just use the #BrexitJustice crowdfund for salary and expenses?
10- Why do I deserve a salary?
11- How much am I asking for?
12- Who am I asking?
13- Where can you find out more about me?
1. Who am I?
My name is Marcus J Ball, I am 26 and my Birthday is on the 2nd of October, I am from Norwich in Norfolk and I lived in Canterbury, Kent, for 6 years. I studied History at Canterbury Christ Church University and following that I founded a small education company called Ambition House and several other start-up ventures. I am passionate about working to solve big problems in higher education and politics. I now live in central London, close to my lawyers’ offices.
You can find out more about me here: www.MarcusJBall.com
2. What do I want to achieve?
- Crowdfund private prosecutions against dishonest UK political leaders in wake of Brexit.
- Set a legal precedent in the common law that prevents political leaders from lying to the public in future.
- Challenge Brexit by legally establishing that it resulted from criminal wrongdoing on both sides.
As ever, I make no promises that this work will be successful. What I can promise is that I will do everything I can to make it so. This is not going to be easy but we have a responsibility to try. Someone has to do this.
3. What have I achieved so far?
A. I had an idea and I created a plan:
I was very upset and angry about Brexit but signing petition after petition for MPs to ignore wasn’t enough, I had to take action. I knew there was the possibility of launching a prosecution against political leaders on the basis of fraud and related offences, so I decided to try and make that happen.
I knew we were going to need a lot of money, brilliant lawyers, national press coverage and the support of thousands of people to get us started. But to begin with all I had was my camera, £0 budget, no press, no lawyers signed up and no experience in crowdfunding. So, I created a plan to ensure that I could gather those resources together and set them on course.
B. I set up the crowdfunding campaign and spread the word:
Using my camera and audio equipment as well as my editing skills and experience on camera I created a simple video. I also wrote up a text explainer and did some basic graphic design. I used the skills I had to launch the campaign and I spread the word on Facebook to secure our initial backers. I was working every day, unpaid.
C. I recruited some volunteers to help me out:
I needed help in spreading the word and gaining momentum so I recruited a team of volunteers to work part time. They were a big help and their enthusiasm spurred me on.
D. I secured the interest of the press:
I wrote press releases and spoke to journalists as I knew that national press coverage was the only way to make our campaign work the way that I wanted it to. After ensuring that we had raised enough money to be ‘newsworthy’ the brilliant volunteers and I approached them and as a result we were covered by the following publications (click on them to see each story):
E. I ensured that we exceeded our £100,000 target:
By communicating effectively with the press, continually improving the crowdfund page and motivating our volunteers I ensured that we raised £145,000 of pledges, far more than our original target.
F. I choose my lawyers, carefully:
I then spent 4 weeks meeting lawyers at their offices, researching their company track records and learning about how they operated. I knew how hugely important it was to work with the best lawyers I could who had the most relevant skills. After careful consideration and negotiations I finally signed up with a team who were just that. EMM are the UK’s only solicitors who are completely dedicated to private prosecutions. Their partners are some of the most impressive in London, and I’m very proud to be working with them. See how qualified they are for yourselves: www.EMMLegal.co.uk
G. I published my finances:
I had been trusted with a lot of money and I wanted to ensure that my backers knew what I was spending the money on. So, I published my spending and balance sheet which was received very well. I wanted to make it easy to read and understand so I wrote detailed notes next to each entry.
H. Now we are investigating and choosing our counsel:
Now my solicitors are approaching barristers and QCs to secure our counsel team who will represent us in court. The general investigation is underway as we work our way through a lot of material. We will save time and money by working on theoretical arguments which we will present to some of the UK’s best barristers. These are lawyers that the UK government itself asks for advice. This allows us to create the best strategy we can for the case, at the minimum cost.
I. What’s next?
My responsibilities now consist of working with the lawyers, reporting progress to backers and the press, carrying out background management work and fundraising. If my lawyers can confirm that the case is strong enough to bring to court then I will be responsible for raising a minimum of £2,000,000 to fund it. This will take a lot of time and good planning to meet up with and pitch to wealthy backers. I have already started this process.
4. What is my current living situation?
I am currently living in temporary accommodation in central London, thanks to a very generous backer. This backer is trying to sell his flat so it is currently empty and he was kind enough to allow me to stay here until it is sold. I have no bed, no fridge, no microwave, no furniture (apart from a small sofa), no kettle, no toaster, etc. I do have an oven and a washing machine though, which are brilliant.
Where I sleep. I really would prefer to have a proper bed.
Where my fridge will go (a backer has given me funds for this already!)
Where I work in the evenings (no Wi-Fi)
I am almost completely out of money and I have loan debts, bills to pay and credit card fees. My financial situation is not good at all, I am in need of a salary for my work and expenses.
5. What risks are there to me?
I am attempting to prosecute some wealthy and powerful people who have some unpleasant friends. There are potential risks to me in the form of legal action, financial risk and physical harm. I could for example face a counter prosecution, as an attempt to derail our work. Or, I could face a costs order, meaning that I would be forced to pay the legal fees of the opposition if I were to lose the case (potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds or more). It is also important to take into account the possibility of being targeted by aggressive supporters of the people I am prosecuting. I have been advised to be wary of people following me and I have to be very careful about who I meet and where, this is not easy and can be quite unsettling as I do not know who I can trust.
If this case progresses as far as I want it to then it is quite likely that I will need personal security in times of need. I have already received professional advice in this regard and I have a close protection company ready to work with me if required. To some people this may sound like paranoia, but it is correct to prepare for all kinds of risk and this preparation didn’t have a financial cost. Also, I would ask potential backers to really think about what it is I’m trying to do. My work could cause big problems for some powerful people. If something happens to me then these problems go away. Not a pleasant thought, but something to consider.
It’s wonderful to receive such generous support, such as this food parcel from a backer. But I need to get to a more sustainable and stable position.
6. Why should it be me that takes on this risk?
- Committed: founder and leader of #BrexitJustice from day 1. Working full time unpaid for about 3 months so far, no other commitments
- Puts purpose before profit:6 years working to reform higher education, not well rewarded financially
- Comfortable taking on risk: 6 years self-starting companies with very limited financial resources
- Resourceful: raised £144,000 in 4 weeks from 4900 people, capable of raising significantly more funds
- Experience generating press interest: launched multiple press releases which have achieved local, regional, national and international press coverage. Also appeared on television several times.
- Confident communicator: 6 years speaking in public at events, leading teams, Tedx speaker, speaking coach experience, experience in radio and on camera for YouTube
- Respectable: No criminal record, no arrests
- Robust & determined nature: experience in high-pressure situations of different types
- Not party political: I am not tied to any particular political party or MP and I am not a political activist
- Undistracted: No career or employment-related confliction as I am self-employed
- Hard to break/manipulate: Not married, no mortgage, no children, few assets (my number 1 responsibility is the case itself and I am not easy to manipulate or pressure, I will put the case before everything else. Someone with a house, a career and a family to protect cannot do this)
7. Why am I crowdfunding a salary?
I love my work, it is an honour to be responsible for this and I thank everyone who has backed me up and supported me so far. However, I have almost completely run out of funds. My bank overdrafts and credit cards are due to totally run out very soon. In order to get this job done properly I need a salary. We all do, we all need money to survive.
I need money for food & drink, clothes, transport and a fridge. I would also quite like a bed, as my £15.00 inflatable mattress will only last for so long. I will need rent when my backer sells his flat and then there are bills, expenses and everything else a person needs to comfortably survive in central London. I’ve worked for 3 months on this so far, with no salary. I did have a little money from a public speaking client but this has run out. Now, after 3 months of progress and good work I feel that I have proven myself.
8. Why can’t I just get a normal job whilst I do this in my spare time?
Several people have suggested this and I have patiently tried to explain that they are perhaps underestimating how much work there is that needs to be done. Raising £2 million is not easy, working with lawyers and reporting progress to backers and the press isn’t either. On top of this I have many meetings and presentations ahead of me. Getting work as big as this successfully completed is not a hobby, it is more than a full time job. For example, I worked almost 7 days a week for a month when I raised the initial £145,000. There simply isn’t enough time for me to work on anything unrelated to Brexit Justice.
9. What don’t I just use the #BrexitJustice crowdfund for salary and expenses?
There are several reasons.
Firstly, that’s not what I said I was going to use the money for. People gave me their money to launch #BrexitJustice and that’s what I’m doing. They didn’t give it to me in order for me to spend it on myself. Many backers have told me that they are happy for me to use the fund for my own needs but several others haven’t. I believe it would be damaging to use the funds on myself, I need to keep them for the expenses of the case (lawyers and etc).
Secondly, there isn’t enough money left to cover my salary and expenses on top of the upcoming legal fees. £108,000 (what’s left) may sound like a lot of money but it isn’t in this context.
10. Why do I deserve a salary?
On the day of the referendum result the entire country was divided, half the nation were distraught. I believe, as many do, that everything that happened was majorly influenced by the dishonesty of our political leaders. In reaction to this I decided to step up and do something. We cannot allow this to happen again and we must legally establish that the result came about due to criminal acts. Our politicians will keep lying to us until someone gives them a solid reason not to. I have taken on the responsibility and very significant risk of doing this when the CPS, the police and other members of the public have not. I am taking on risk on behalf of others in order to carry out a complex and challenging public service. Other people get paid for their work, I need to also.
11. How much am I asking for?
I am living in central London and I have already been working for 3 months, unpaid. Costs are very high here and I do not come from a wealthy background. I do not have any of my own money left to call upon. I need to be paid enough to ensure that I am not worrying about my finances when I should be doing my job, I will also need to cover expenses (transport and etc). With this in mind I would like to raise £30,000 as a salary for this year, but I am unsure if my backers will be willing to fund this. Crowdfunder, Paypal and Stripe take a % of the total raised and there are unsuccessful payments to consider on top of this. So, I predict that I will need to raise about £32,400 in order to receive my target of £30,000. I very much doubt that we will receive more than £30,000 but if we do then it will simply be added to the general Brexit Justice fund.
12. Who am I asking?
My BrexitJustice backers, my friends and my family. My Birthday is on the 2nd of October, I will be 27. I would ask that people fund me instead of buying me Birthday presents.
13. Where can you find out more about me?
My personal website: www.MarcusJBall.com
Brexit Justice website: http://www.brexitjustice.com/
BrexitJustice Crowdfunder: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/brexitjustice
Thank you all for considering funding me for this work,
Marcus J Ball