It looks like the wall won't be crowdfunded after all. On Friday, the man who set up a GoFundMe to pay for President Trump's wall acknowledged that the effort had fallen far short of its goal, and anyone who donated to the failed effort would have their money refunded.
“When I created this fundraiser, I said if we did not reach our goal we will refund donors,” creator Brian Kolfage wrote on the GoFundMe page. "I am honoring that commitment today. We will promptly refund your donation unless you tell us you approve our new plan for action."
Kolfage launched his GoFundMe to great fanfare in December to great fanfare, and initially raised more than $10 million in three days. However, donations quickly sputtered out after that, and flatlined at $20 million around Christmas — way, way less than the projected cost that building the wall would need.
Although Trump is now demanding $5.7 billion to begin construction on the wall, his administration had previously asked Congress for $25 billion to complete the project. If that number is correct, the GoFundMe's target of $1 billion was actually only 4 percent of the true cost of the wall — and after a month, the campaign had only raised 0.08 percent what the wall would ultimately cost.
Kolfage wrote in the most recent update to the page that, after researching the logistics of the campaign, he concluded that "the federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon," and that "we are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border." To that end, he has formed a non-profit and is encouraging supporters to donate to it.
In a statement to the Hill and other media outlets, however, GoFundMe said that all of the donations to Kolfage's campaign will automatically be refunded, and that donors will have to actively donate to Kolfage's new organization if they want to support it.
"If a donor does not want a refund, and they want their donation to go to the new organization, they must proactively elect to redirect their donation to that organization," GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne told the Hill. "If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund.”
Kolfage announced the formation of a "highly experienced team" to assist with his new effort. It includes several prominent right-wing figures, including Sheriff David Clarke, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Blackwater founder Erik Prinze.
"If the Democrats won't provide the funding for what the American people voted for in 2016 then we the people will," Kolfage wrote. "When Americans see us completing real miles of beautiful wall, we know that we will raise the many billions we need to finally secure the entire border. I am 100% committed to secure our southern border and protect Americans."