Yelp adds GoFundMe button to boost local restaurants and bars hurt by closures

Yelp is giving people a way to directly support their favorite local cafes, bars, and restaurants as these businesses struggle with the fallout of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

The customer review site announced Tuesday that it has partnered up with GoFundMe to raise money for small businesses and eateries featured on its site and app. Donate buttons will be added to business listings to redirect people to GoFundMe donation drives set up for each establishment.

Yelp Foundation and GoFundMe promised to match up to $1 million in donations made through the service. Yelp said it will not claim any portion of donations made through the respective GoFundMe links; GoFundMe will still charge its fee.

Restaurants and small businesses have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, with many establishments being forced to shut down due to the pandemic.

Brick-and-mortar establishments have already switched to delivery and takeout only, but some don’t have that capacity and have turned to asking frequent patrons to donate via Venmo or Paypal or buy gift certificates to redeem post-pandemic. Efforts like this could be the thing that may save many of these establishments.

The donation link will be automatically placed on business’ respective Yelp pages over the next few days, according to the company’s statement. In order to be eligible, businesses must have claimed pages, have five or fewer locations, be independently owned and operated, and “intend to use funds to either … help care for their employees/workers or pay ongoing business expenses.”

First up are eligible businesses in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, followed by a rollout across the country. Yelp did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to why West Coast establishments were being chosen first.

The donation feature is the latest move by Yelp to lessen the pandemic’s effects. Last week, Yelp pledged $25 million to “independent, local restaurants and nightlife businesses” and restaurants in the form of “waived advertising fees and free advertising, products, and services during this period.”

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