Border wall GoFundMe campaign to refund donations after missing goal

Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs

Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs

While the campaign has raised more than $20 million from over 325,000 donors, it's well short of the $1 billion goal.

Business Insider reports that when the campaign was started, founder Brian Kolfage promised all donations would be used to pay for a border wall between the US and Mexico once the $1 billion goal was reached.

GoFundMe Director of North America Communications Bobby Whithorne said in a statement that all donors will automatically receive a refund unless they decide to send the money to Kolfage's nonprofit, which is classified by the IRS as a "social welfare organization".

The non-profit company, We Build the Wall, Inc., is led by Kolfage and other prominent anti-immigration activists including private security expert and regular Trump consultant Erik Prince; David Clarke, the former Milwaukee sheriff and a favorite of Trump; and Kris Kobach, the conservative secretary of state of Kansas.

"However, that did not happen", Whithorne said.

He said he would only collect the fund if it hit its goal of $1 billion, which is about one-fifth of what President Donald Trump has asked of Congress to build the wall.

The campaign, created in December of previous year, had raised $20 million. "This means all donors will receive a refund". There is a GoFundMe campaign owned by Kolfage under the same name with the update, "We have moved our campaign to a new website", with a link to an outside site.

Kolfage gave donors the option of giving their GoFundMe contribution to himself and a team he assembled to privately construct the border wall.

This is why, he wrote, his new non-profit will now accept any donations previously made to the GoFundMe.

GoFundMe confirmed because there was a change in how the funds were to be used, all of the money donated to the campaign will be refunded, unless contributors proactively elect to redirect their donation to the new organization.

"Our team strongly believes that we can complete our segments of the wall for less than half of the government's estimated costs on a per mile basis", Kolfage said.

It's unclear if GoFudMe is taking steps to verify the charity's legitimacy. Kolfage raised $16,246 for a veteran mentorship program, but BuzzFeed News reports that after collecting the funds, he didn't use the money as promised: none of the partners he claimed to have worked with - including Walter Reed, Brooke Army Medical Center and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany - have any records that Kolfage worked with their patients or donated money, according to representatives at the centers that BuzzFeed News spoke to.

The GoFundMe campaign went viral during the week of its creation in December 2018.