Three days ago, on a whim, I started a joke Gofundme campaign called “Let 40 Horses Loose At Burning Man” and then linked it from Twitter for a few laughs. I was surprised how smooth and easy it is to set up a Gofundme campaign, they really have their act together.
After setting it up, I made two donations myself, one for $10 and then one for $6. My assumption was that I could just refund them, or withdraw most of the money when the campaign was over. This morning, I decided to reverse them, before I forgot about them. The Gofundme support team was insanely fast at reversing them, and they also shut down new donations to the campaign, so a big “Donations have been turned off” pop-up came on when you visited the page.
Wouldn’t you know it, maybe 30 minutes after that was set up, people started to retweet the campaign on Twitter. A couple of people with a lot of followers retweeted it (@bro_pair and then @drewtoothpaste), and it got a bunch of action. I hated wasting a good joke, so I wrote back to Gofundme and asked them to turn donations back on, so that the warning thing didn’t pop up across the web page and ruin the joke.
They re-enabled it, and when I went to check it out, I realized a pretty cool thing about Gofundme: You can enter an ‘offline donation’ yourself just by typing it into their admin area, and it’ll show up alongside the other donations to your campaign, although it’s clearly designated as an offline donation.
Since I had stuck in a $50,000 goal for the campaign, I decided to make an offline donation of $15,000, and then I decided to do another, of $23,456. This made it instantly look like the campaign had raised over $38k, which I found kind of amusing.
A Vice website called Thump wrote a short article about it, and I just noticed that it’s marked as “trending” on Gofundme. A couple of people wrote messages on Gofundme saying that animals aren’t allowed at Burning Man.
A few people throughout the day expressed concern for the horses on Twitter, and at first I did jokey replies to them like “Anything is allowed at Burning Man!” but then I instantly felt kind of mean, like I was mocking them, so I just wrote back and said something like “In all seriousness this is just a joke”. I didn’t really want to screw around with some random people who just love horses – those are really good people.
So right now I guess I’m just going to leave this thing up for another day or two and then close it off. A couple of people have donated $5-$10, and I really want to refund them sooner than later.
So I have a few thoughts about what I’ve learned about Burning Man, crowdsourcing and the power of social networking – just kidding, I don’t care at all, this was a pretty dumb joke and the important part was I got a short blog post out of it (which you are reading, it’s this post).