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  • Writer's pictureEric Van Meter

Go Fund Me for Small Business: How to Ask for Help

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Many small businesses are faced with grim decisions as government orders for people to stay at home decimate their revenue. 

If you're considering setting up a Go Fund Me drive or something similar, this post offers advice on what to say and how to say it.

These tips are for businesses. Later this week I'll share advice for nonprofits on asking for help in times of economic downturn. 

Be open and honest Let people know exactly what you're dealing with. "Business is down 65%." "We've had to lay off five people so that we could continue to employ ten others." Be frank about why you're asking for help. 

Focus on your employees A Go Fund Me drive will likely be more successful if set up for your employees rather than your business. 

That said, you may be able to do both with one drive. For example, fundraising for employees might offset your need to reduce pay or trim benefits. 

Be specific about why it's needed If you're in food service, chances are your employees have been hit hard by losses in tips. Maybe you've had to furlough some of your staff. 

Everyone knows what's going on in their communities and across the country, but your customers will want to understand your story.

Explain what a gift will mean Maybe a $20 gift will replace lost tips for one employee for one shift. Maybe $40 will cover one month's water bill for a furloughed employee. Help people clearly see the impact of what they could give. 

Justify the amount you're asking for Continuing in the same line of thinking, let people know you've given thought to the overall goal you've set for your campaign. "$2,700 will cover one month of rent for Matt, Maria and James." 

State how it will be shared If 100% of the fund will go to employees, say so. If it will be divided differently between working and laid-off staff, explain how. 

Appeal to shared values People often give out of a sense of community, and one of the most powerful forces that connect us are shared values. 

Have you always been committed to offering healthy, affordable food? Have you always provided event space for public discourse and the arts?

Whatever good you do in the world, make it part of your appeal.

Share everywhere Don't be shy, especially if asking for help for others. Share your drive across social media and in email. Tell people you know. 

Write a simple press release to send to your local news stations. Learn who covers small business in your papers and send it directly to them. 

If you don't know how to write a press release, just send a simple note. (I'll share tips on press releases in the days ahead).

Make your thank yous personal Go Fund Me or any similar platform will let you write a thank you that will  automatically go to donors. That's great, but it's even better to also personally email a thank you to each donor. 

These can be short and simple, including just one or two sentences about a conversation you had that day or something that just happened - just enough to signal that it's not a canned message. 

If someone makes a large gift, call to thank them if you can. Follow up with an email.

Make that second ask Sincere gratitude -- a call or personal note -- goes a long way toward building goodwill, making donors more likely to help you further. 

When you thank donors, ask them to consider sharing your drive with the people in their circles who might be able to help out. 

Make it quick and not pushy: "If you know anyone who might also want to help out, please consider letting them know." Then thank them again.  --- If you've found this post helpful, take a look at some general tips for comms related to the coronavirus pandemic and advice for small businesses on talking with customers and staff

In the days and weeks ahead, I'll be sharing more advice on communications during the COVID-19 crisis, including best practices for social media, how to continue marketing, sharing your story with the media, fundraising for smaller nonprofits and more. 

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