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Yelp Fundraising

Yelp announces fundraising partnership with GoFundMe to support local businesses

Following Yelp’s announcement last week of a $25 million relief package for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus, the company is announcing a fundraising partnership today with GoFundMe. The objective is to enable Yelp users to donate to businesses directly through Yelp.

Buttons will appear by default on profiles. Many local businesses have started pages on GoFundMe already. But this program will automatically place a “donate” button and associated fundraising solicitation on the Yelp profile pages of businesses in several categories: restaurants, nightlife, beauty and fitness, and “active life businesses.”

The donate buttons will appear by default on the relevant (claimed) Yelp profiles. Businesses will be able to opt-out if desired. To be eligible to participate in the program, Yelp local businesses must meet several criteria:

  • U.S. businesses only
  • Five or fewer locations and be “independently owned and operated and not nationally dominant in their field”
  • Business profiles claimed (as of 3/22/20)
  • Operate in one of the following categories: Restaurants, Food, Nightlife, Beauty/Spas/Salons, or Active (some exceptions)
  • Be “negatively impacted by a government mandate due to the COVID-19 pandemic”
  • Intend to use funds to either to help care for their employees / workers or pay ongoing business expenses.

The contribution happens on GoFundMe. The image below shows what the checkout flow looks like. A donate screen leads to a GoFundMe landing page where the contribution occurs.

Matching funds for the first 2,000. The Yelp Foundation and GoFundMe will also match $1 million in donations, “with a $500 match for the first 2,000 eligible businesses that claim their fundraising page on GoFundMe and raise $500.”

Beyond having already claimed the Yelp profile, businesses must claim their fundraising page on GoFundMe. It’s not entirely clear but it appears these have been pre-populated and simply need to be claimed by the business. There’s an FAQs page for business owners that answers a range of questions about the program and how to participate.

Why we care. Yelp is also releasing and plans to regularly update a Coronavirus Economic Impact report, showing how local businesses but also how consumer behavior are being affected by the virus and corresponding shelter in place rules.

In addition to Yelp, Facebook and Nextdoor are taking steps to support and/or fund small businesses as the crisis stretches on. The U.S. government bailout, still pending, is supposed to contain hundreds of billions in potential loans and other financial relief for business owners — though “disaster loans” are now available through the SBA.

Small businesses represent well over 90% of all U.S. businesses and, on average, have only a month’s worth of expenses on hand. These businesses pour billions of dollars annually into digital marketing and advertising and so if a substantial number of them fail there will be a ripple effect across the digital ad ecosystem, especially for smaller agencies.


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