After coming up $980 million short, wall GoFundMe donations will be refunded

Elizabeth Howe
January 12, 2019 - 6:32 pm

Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs

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The money raised by the border wall GoFundMe is now up in the air — and it's a lot of money. 

RELATED: Veteran takes matters into his own hands to fund Trump's wall

Air Force veteran and triple amputee Brian Kolfage's GoFundMe campaign has raised $20 million since it started in late December. But that's $80 million short of its goal and, as a result, all the money donated is being refunded according to CNN

"When the campaign was created, the campaign organizer specifically stated on the campaign page, 'If we don't reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny,'" GoFundMe told CNN. "He also stated on the campaign page, '100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall. If for ANY reason we don't reach our goal we will refund your donation.' That did not happen. This means all donors will receive a refund," GoFundMe told CNN.

Bobby Whithorne, director of North America Communications for GoFundMe, also provided a statement to ABC reiterating why exactly the money is being refunded.

"There was a change in the use of funds," Whithorne said in a statement. "This means all donors will receive a refund. 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. If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund."

A visit to the updated GoFundMe page, however, makes it clear that Kolfage is far from finished and isn't letting this technicality get in his way.

"The media is falsely reporting all money is being refunded and it’s over. They are WRONG. WE ARE BUILDING THE WALL and you can STILL donate or opt in if you donated before January 11th TO SUPPORT the plan," Kolfage writes on the campaign page. 

So, yes, all $20 million worth of donations will be refunded — but it's not quite over. Those who donated to the GoFundMe can have their donations reallocated to Kolfage's new Section 501(c)(4) non-profit We Build the Wall, Inc instead of refunding. 

Connecting Vets has not confirmed that Kolfage's We Build the Wall, Inc. has actually received 501(c)(4) status from the Internal Revenue Service despite the government shutdown. 

According to the campaign page, Kolfage worked with a team of professionals in law, politics, national security, construction, and finance and determined that the federal government "won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon" and "we are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border."

Now, Kolfage's "advisory board" has "begun extensive due diligence and the commencement of feasibility studies" to get the wall built. He's confident that when Americans see "real miles of beautiful wall ... we will raise the many billions we need to finally secure the entire border."

After pitching his non-profit, Kolfage does clarify that, yes, he did originally say he would refund any donations should the goal not be met. 

"When I created this fundraiser, I said if we did not reach our goal we will refund donors," Kolfage writes. "I am honoring that commitment today. We will promptly refund your donation unless you tell us you approve our new plan for action."

A clarification he may have felt it was necessary to make after BuzzFeed News released an investigative article about the times Kolfage was suspected of not honoring his commitments.

RELATED: Veteran who launched GoFundMe page for a border wall has reported history of scamming

And at the very bottom, the only section of his message not in bold text:

"If you want a refund for your donation, no need to do anything. You will receive your refund a few weeks after the 90 days expires and GoFundMe will notify you once your refund has processed. If you would prefer a refund now, you can request that here: https://bit.ly/2smynWq." 

Now, the 340,000 donators have to decide if they will continue to support Kolfage and his efforts.

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