Woman behind TikTok ‘Venmo Challenge’ shares inspiration behind the phenomenon

Lexy Burke has raised over $105,000 on TikTok to date — quite an impressive sum.

But unlike some of her crowdsourcing peers on the video-sharing platform, the Nashville, Tenn., native has given away every penny of those funds to deserving parties, including waiters, a struggling musician outside Target and people who are homeless.

Most recently, she even helped an evicted grandmother afford the security deposit for a new apartment.


She just got evicted- this is going to help her get back on her feet. You all did this!!! #fyp #MorningCheer #DinnerWithMe #venmochallenge #lexylately

♬ Fix You – Viva la Vida

Burke, the videographer and “serial tipper” behind the original Venmo Challenge, told In The Know she first downloaded TikTok as a simple distraction during coronavirus lockdown, just like the rest of us.

“I instantly loved the app and loved seeing all the fun videos and trends,” the creator said.

After spending a few months killing quarantine time on the app, Burke was delighted to learn that Nashville was set to enter its Phase 2 reopening on May 18, meaning restaurants would be open for business at a limited capacity.

Around the same time, Burke recalled seeing a growing trend on TikTok where users would ask their followers to send them small-scale donations — between $0.50 and $1, even — to raise money for things ranging from cars to plastic surgery.

“I noticed no one was paying it forward,” she told In The Know. “So, that is when I decided to do this.”

Credit: Lexy Burke

Right after the Phase 2 reopening, Burke and her husband, musician Austin Burke, made plans to go out to celebrate her belated birthday in May. But before that, the TikToker decided to post a video asking her followers to send her small bits of change so the couple could leave a large tip for their waiter amid these trying times, which have been particularly devastating to service workers.

“I had been a server for years and knew how much the shut down impacted those in the service industry,” Burke explained. “I had also randomly got a one thousand dollar tip a few years back and it made my life!”

After posting her initial crowdsourcing video, Burke took to TikTok to update the community that she was able to raise a whopping $3,021, which her followers suggested she divide in order to tip three separate servers $1,007. She did just that.

But she didn’t stop there — Burke continued her charitable efforts over the next five months and has no plans on stopping. Together, she and her followers have since given over $105K to 68 lucky recipients and counting.

And while to some people, $1,000 may prove a nice safety net during these uncertain times, to others, the cash has proven to be literally life-changing, Burke said.

“We tipped a street vendor two thousand dollars,” she shared of one of her most memorable Venmo Challenge videos. “He told us his whole story after he was in prison for 30 years for drug addiction, got on his feet after getting out, opened a BBQ joint and was living his best life. The next day we drove by and saw him putting up brand new signs!”

Burke is currently in the process of her 12th round of crowdsourcing. To be a part of it, simply Venmo her some change — any amount will do — and then wait for her next TikTok to watch your coin in action.

For those looking to bring “serial tipping” to their own city, Burke has even shared instruction on how to get started — and no, she doesn’t mind copycat Venmo Challenge videos at all. She actually encourages them.

If you liked this article, check out these two brothers who have raised over $300K for charity.

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