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GoFundMe Is Dangling a $120 Million Lifeline to Dying Businesses

  • Crowdfunding sites shift to help workers weather the pandemic
  • Campaigns add to push to sell gift cards and ‘dining bonds’
Washington restaurateur Geoff Tracy and his brother raised $18,000 for employees on GoFundMe
Washington restaurateur Geoff Tracy and his brother raised $18,000 for employees on GoFundMePhotographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The wheels of government are turning too slowly for small businesses desperate for a piece of the $2 trillion U.S. relief package. Many are looking to a lifeline of last resort: crowdfunding.

On GoFundMe, the best-known site, at least 35,000 people or organizations have created fundraising pages tied to the pandemic. They’ve collected $120 million, much of it geared toward paying idled employees. It’s the most that 10-year-old GoFundMe has ever collected in response to a crisis -- five times as much as for the Australian wildfires.