Yelp is hoping to help struggling business stay afloat while COVID-19 restrictions are in place by teaming up with GoFundMe. Since a lot of businesses have to shut down unless they're classified as "essential retail," the two companies are making it easier for them receive direct donations from loyal patrons and people in their community who may want to help. Yelp pages for restaurants, nightlife, beauty and fitness, as well as active life businesses can now display GoFundMe fundraisers. Eligible business' pages will show a Donate button right on their profile.
Since the program focuses on small, independent businesses, they'll need to have five or fewer locations in order to take advantage of it. The Donate icon will start showing up on Yelp pages for some of the hardest hit areas starting today, but the feature will be available to more eligible businesses nationwide over the next couple of days. Yelp and GoFundMe also pledged to match up to $1 million in donations, with more companies promising to match even more donations in the coming week.
Other tech companies taking steps to combat COVID-19 and to help people affected by the outbreak include Amazon, which teamed up with the Gates Foundation to deliver and pick up at-home COVID-19 testing kits as part of a trial. GrubHub recently deferred commission fees for independent restaurants nationwide, while Facebook pledged $100 million to small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Update 03/26/20 9:30PM ET: Yelp has suspended the GoFundMe donation button's rollout after receiving backlash for making it an automatic addition to business' profiles instead of making it opt-in. A spokesperson told us in a statement:
"On Tuesday, Yelp announced a partnership with GoFundMe to provide a fast and easy way for people to support their favorite local businesses by donating to a GoFundMe fundraiser directly on the Yelp pages of eligible businesses. In an effort to get businesses help quickly and easily, a GoFundMe fundraiser was automatically added to the Yelp pages of an initial group of eligible businesses, with information provided on how to claim it or opt out should a business choose to do so. However, it has come to our attention that some businesses did not receive a notification with opt-out instructions, and some would have preferred to actively opt-in to the program. As such, we have paused the automatic rollout of this feature, and are working with GoFundMe to provide a seamless way for businesses to opt into the program moving forward, as we have received a great deal of interest and support for the program from both consumers and businesses alike."