When Cody Harris heard that a rally planned for San Francisco was likely to draw a crowd similar to the neo-Nazi/white supremacist march that ended in tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, he wanted to respond in a way that would be both productive and nonviolent. His solution: “Adopt-a-Nazi (Not Really).”
“I came across a story regarding a small town in Germany, Wunsiedel, that decided to combat an annual neo-Nazi march through town by donating money to an anti-extremist group for every marcher,” says the white-collar criminal defense and securities litigation attorney at Keker, Van Nest & Peters. “I wanted to do something similar here, and turned to GoFundMe to launch a campaign. The idea was that for each extremist who might attend the rally, donors would give some money to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks and combats extremist groups in the United States.”
So Harris launched his “Adopt-a-Nazi (Not Really)” GoFundMe campaign, enlisting the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco, on which he serves as a board member, to help spearhead the effort.
To Harris’ surprise, the campaign went viral, becoming a trending hashtag on Twitter. The GoFundMe platform enabled donors to share the campaign across networks.
“The campaign far exceeded our expectations,” he says. “My initial goal was $10,000, which I thought was very ambitious. We hit that goal in less than 24 hours. I steadily increased it, first to $20,000, then $30,000, then $50,000. Within a week, we were aiming for $100,000, which we easily exceeded. We ended up raising more than $160,000 in about 10 days, from more than 2,600 individual donors. It’s been shared on Facebook more than 17,000 times. Press outlets and blogs from all over the world covered our campaign. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”