By Kim Wilford, General Counsel of GoFundMe. This piece first appeared here.
At GoFundMe, we are fortunate to connect those who need help with the everyday heroes who so generously give. It’s an active mission: inspiring hope and changing lives through giving. It’s a mission that extends beyond our platform and drives the hundreds of team members who show up every day to help people in need worldwide.
Our desire to help has only intensified over the past year. As we mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that its enduring impact will be felt for decades to come. Day after day, small businesses across the country turn to GoFundMe for an economic lifeline — a chance to keep their doors open, serve our communities, and employ our neighbors. Many survived thanks to the generosity of the GoFundMe community.
For the past year, we spearheaded the Small Business Relief initiative to uplift small businesses across the country. Now, we know that there is far more that we can do to help as a company, which is why we are delighted to announce our new partnership with Pacific Community Ventures (PCV).
Together, we are strengthening the fabric of local communities by making affordable loans and free business advising more accessible to women, entrepreneurs of color, and other underinvested small business owners — communities that represent the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the country, and those most disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and economic crisis.
GoFundMe will join PCV’s Small Business Support Circle with a $500,000 grant through GoFundMe.org to support their affordable loan program. This will provide low-cost loans to small business owners in California who have been excluded from the traditional financial system, all of whom will also be matched with pro bono advisors via BusinessAdvising.org for pre- and post-investment support. In addition, GoFundMe employees will have the opportunity to serve as volunteer advisers to help small businesses tap into skills and expertise that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible. By doing this, we’re helping businesses stay open safely, pivot, and create good jobs with higher wages and benefits that allow these companies to grow sustainably.
These are just three examples of the kind of small business owners who will benefit from this partnership:
Chef Toriano Gordon of Vegan Mob
Vegan Mob is an Oakland-based restaurant on a mission to provide nutritious and healthy food with plant-based ingredients. Vegan Mob is owned by Chef Toriano Gordon whose passion is to help his neighbors by empowering them with food they love and enjoy, while also supporting a healthy lifestyle.
Shonda Scott of 360 Total Concept
Founded by Shonda Scott in 2006, 360 Total Concept is a management consulting firm that specializes in project management for public relations, monitoring and contract compliance, logistics, and facilities management. Shonda has grown 360 Total Concept from 1 employee to a dozen over the last decade.
Fernando Diaz of Proyecto Diaz Coffee
For Fernando Diaz, coffee is about more than a good buzz, good conversation, or earning a living. It’s about family. “We’re at least a four-generation coffee-producing family,” he says. They may go back even further, but there are no written records earlier than that for his family’s farm in Oaxaca, Mexico, where Diaz’s family still grows coffee beans.
Why GoFundMe + PCV?
So many of us are viewing the future through a lens that will forever be changed by the past year. We have been dedicated to supporting small businesses throughout the pandemic and now we are taking our commitment even further. The partnership with PCV provides a tangible way for GoFundMe employees to positively impact women and minority-owned businesses by volunteering their time and talents.
Eighty-five percent of the small businesses that PCV supports are owned by women and/or people of color. Connecting small businesses with the passion, skills, and expertise of our GoFundMe team is a way for us to give back to businesses who have held fast to their dreams despite the tumultuous past year. It’s also a way to ensure these communities are able to gain equal access to expert advice and mentorship opportunities.
Small business owners leverage GoFundMe employees’ expertise
GoFundMe team members from around the country have already signed up as mentors to small business owners through PCV’s Business Advising program. After completing a brief profile, each team member is matched with a small business based on their skill set, leveraging their everyday expertise in digital marketing, finance, and more to meet the increased demand for advising that PCV has seen over the past year. Over the next several months, GoFundMe volunteers will virtually mentor small business owners for one hour each week via email, phone, or video chat.
Why this initiative is important to me
We all have an innate desire to help, and serving my community in ways both large and small has always been an integral part of my life. Since joining GoFundMe in 2018, I’ve been inspired by companies of all sizes that have found ways to bring philanthropy inside, and I wanted to be more intentional about our own efforts. When I learned of the incredible work PCV was doing I knew this was a perfect fit for our culture and talent.
More specifically, I was really drawn to this program’s multiplier effect. As loans get repaid, money can be reinvested in other eligible small businesses. As our employees donate their time and skills, these businesses have a much better chance of surviving which in turn provides pathways for upward mobility in underinvested communities.
Creating hope by giving back
This partnership is a reflection of the growing need that we saw on GoFundMe throughout the past year. We believe this is an incredible opportunity to make a meaningful difference for so many with affordable capital and mentorship and hope our action in this regard inspires others to consider this avenue for giving.
The success stories from PCV’s Business Advising and Lending programs are inspiring. More small business owners are serving their communities, creating jobs, and building lasting legacies. As we continue to build our partnership in the months ahead, we’re excited to watch these small businesses thrive, inspire hope, and change lives.