Gofundme Small Business Relief Fund – In early March, GoFundMe CEO Tim Cadogan wrote in a post that the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic “tested humanity in ways most of us have never known.” Since then, audiences have rallied together to provide unwavering support to friends, family and even strangers in need, all while navigating the pandemic firsthand.
To better understand the GoFundMe community’s ever-changing response to COVID-19, we’re sharing data on donations and fundraising related to the pandemic over a six-month period. Here’s what we learned:
Gofundme Small Business Relief Fund
Between March 1 and August 31, 2020, the GoFundMe community responded to the widespread impact of the pandemic by raising more than $625 million through more than 9 million donations for frontline workers, small businesses, causes, organizations and much more
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On March 25th, they started raising more funds than any other day in the last six months, one day after GoFundMe and our partners launched the Small Business Relief Initiative. More than 50% of those funds raised went in support of small businesses as the number of US states under stay-at-home orders approached 20.
In the United States, here are the states that had the most fundraisers launched per capita:
In March, as the pandemic intensified in New York City, Ben Wei launched a GoFundMe to help meet the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) among local frontline healthcare workers. With donations benefiting his non-profit organization A Million Masks, nearly 200,000 masks and face shields have been delivered to frontline healthcare workers.
Ben’s fundraising is just one of the many reasons people have launched and supported a GoFundMe during the pandemic: from helping small businesses trying to stay afloat, to buying school supplies for students transitioning to remote learning, to providing relief to people struggling to pay their monthly bills. . .
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Here’s a breakdown of the pandemic-related fundraising needs addressed between March 1 and August 31, 2020 in the United States:
Unlike natural disasters like hurricanes, there was no traceable forecast for the COVID-19 pandemic. The global spread and persistence of the pandemic has created an ongoing need for support. There is no clearly defined end date.
To illustrate, we’ve mapped the number of pandemic-focused fundraising donations. Together, we mapped the donation activity driven by urgent needs in the wake of two devastating natural disasters: Hurricane Harvey and the Australian bushfires.
The generosity of our global community has led to countless lifelines that extend to parents and children, communities and small businesses, and nonprofit causes and organizations. With the pandemic far from over, there are many ways to continue to support those in need.
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GoFundMe, along with our charitable and nonprofit arm GoFundMe.org, has created two general funds to make it easier for people to donate to broader causes:
You can also find and support individual fundraisers on GoFundMe.com and through the centralized hubs we’ve created for both general COVID-19 needs and small businesses. Andy McMillan didn’t expect to see a call for donations all over the Yelp page for his. The owner of Portland’s Suckerpunch, a newly opened bar serving non-alcoholic cocktails that has temporarily closed amid the COVID-19 outbreak. McMillan hadn’t started fundraising, but Yelp and GoFundMe did it for him and tens of thousands of other small businesses, each seeking $2,500.
“Support Suckerpunch” reads the tab on McMillan’s Yelp page, which links to an auto-generated GoFundMe. “Covid-19 has made it difficult for local businesses and their employees. Share your support in these difficult times by donating. Any amount helps. All proceeds go directly to the business.” To donors, GoFundMe suggests, but does not require, a 15 percent tip for their services.
“I was like, what the hell?” McMillan says. “They hadn’t called; they hadn’t emailed; I hadn’t heard from them.”
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Yes, Suckerpunch was forced to close its doors, as were all the bars and restaurants in Oregon that were ordered to close their dining rooms for public safety earlier this month. And yes, many restaurants in the United States have set up their own GoFundMe pages to help them stay in business or compensate employees. But Suckerpunch was not one of them.
Uhhh, what the hell? Without my permission, or even notice, Yelp created a GoFundMe fundraiser for my bar @suckerpunchpdx. pic.twitter.com/qqmn6IUSx5 — Andy McMillan (@andymcmillan) March 26, 2020
Instead, it was part of a partnership to help small businesses that Yelp and GoFundMe announced earlier this week. Using Yelp business photos and descriptions, GoFundMe automatically generated fundraisers for select businesses listed on Yelp: “Restaurants, Nightlife, Beauty & Fitness & Active Living” with five or fewer locations in areas most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. 19 and linked Yelp. to those fundraisers.
The idea is charitable, and Yelp and GoFundMe have announced plans to match $1 million of the donations generated, in $500 grants to businesses that raise at least $500 on their automated GoFundMe pages. Intuit Quickbooks later joined the effort and kicked in another $500,000. But the execution, McMillan says, was baffling. “They think they are doing something generous, but this was not intended,” he says.
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Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Chicago’s Alinea restaurant group, was “over the moon” to find a Yelp-linked GoFundMe for one of his businesses, St. Clair Supper Club, yesterday. “Our customers think we’re asking for charity for our workers. We’re not. We work hard to provide for them by selling takeout, and we’ll participate in government programs that are created for hospitality workers.”
“I really can’t believe Yelp and GoFundMe thought this was a good idea,” says Kokonas. “It’s the worst kind of fake management in a crisis, set up to look like charity, but really taking advantage of a horrible situation.”
Yelp’s fundraisers could also catch the eye of others, restaurant operators such as writer and chef J. Kenji López-Alt speculated on Twitter. “Restaurants are actively working on their own fundraising efforts and this effectively splits that pot, adding an unnecessary workload to then taking GoFundMe funds when they could get it directly.”
Opting out of fundraisers was also difficult: a company like Suckerpunch needed to claim the GoFundMe and then delete it; If donations have been made, they will be automatically returned to the donors. “That’s some shitty techbro thinking,” McMillan says of the automatic activation. Other restaurant tech companies like Grubhub, for example, have drawn criticism for similar behavior, such as adding restaurants to their platform without their consent.
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In response to criticism, Yelp says it will change its acceptance format. “In an effort to make it quick and easy for businesses to help, a GoFundMe fundraiser has been automatically added to the Yelp pages of an initial group of eligible businesses, with information on how to claim it or opt out if a business chooses to do so.” says a Yelp spokesperson. “However, it has come to our attention that some businesses have not received a notification with opt-out instructions, and some would prefer to enable the program. As such, we have paused the automatic rollout of this feature and are working with GoFundMe to provide a seamless way for them to companies opt into the program in the future.”
Despite GoFundMe’s default suggestion, Yelp says it doesn’t profit from fundraisers like these. But helping small businesses stay open isn’t purely charitable for Yelp, either: it’s a survival instinct. Without businesses, there is no advertising to sell, the company’s main source of income. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Yelp withdrew its guidance to shareholders for the first quarter and full year of 2020. Yelp also committed $25 million in relief funds to small and independent restaurants and bars, though not in cash, but in advertising fees and free services.
However, despite the crisis, some Yelpers are still doing it, leaving one-star reviews for restaurants like New York City’s Prince Street Pizza. “Just know that if you’re screaming for a moment like this, there’s a special place in hell for you,” the pizzeria wrote on Instagram. Small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s economy, and their sudden struggles right now are unprecedented. Big companies and organizations are coming together to help small businesses keep moving forward during this pandemic.
The federal funding request in the last week has certainly had its hurdles, and some state funds are already at full capacity. Here are some alternative avenues of support to help your business. Connect with your Alloy Silverstein CPA if you need help.
Small Business Relief Tracker: Funding, Grants And Resources For Business Owners Grappling With Coronavirus
GoFundMe launched the Small Business Relief Initiative to help small businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and empower their communities to rally behind them. GoFundMe has partnered with Yelp, Intuit QuickBooks, GoDaddy and Bill.com to provide small business owners with the financial support and resources they need to continue running their businesses during and after the coronavirus crisis.
Facebook is committed to giving up to 30,000 small businesses $100 million in cash grants and Facebook ad credits. The grants are to cover labor costs, rent, operating costs and help businesses connect with more customers during these difficult times. The business must have between 2 and 50 employees, have more assets
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