How To Run A Crowdfunding Campaign For Your Small Business or Restaurant During The Coronavirus Lockdown

The COVID-19 crisis has changed everything. Society is being reshaped in dramatic ways and small businesses and food services are two sectors that have been hit the hardest. 

According to Homebase, a free scheduling and time tracking tool for small businesses, since forced closures and shelter-in-place orders began on March 17, small businesses overall have seen a 62% drop in the number of hours employees have been able to work. The food and drink sector alone has seen a 40% decrease.  

Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. workers is employed by an industry that will most likely feel the harshest and most immediate impact from COVID-19. As the situation becomes more severe, small businesses and restaurant owners are crowdfunding as a way to support their workers during this difficult time.

For first-time fundraisers, raising money may seem like a daunting task. Not to worry!

We’ll show you how easy it is for small businesses and restaurants crowdfunding online during coronavirus using CauseVox’s digital fundraising platform.

Assess Your SMART Goal 

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time. It’s criteria that is used for setting and increasing the likelihood of meeting your goals.  

Consider the specific, relevant items that you will need to financially cover during this time and measure what those costs are per month. These may include:

  • Employee salaries
  • Health insurance costs
  • Building rent
  • Work stipend for contractors 
  • Paid sick leave for employees
  • Operational expenses 

In the example above, Fancy Nails and Spa, is asking for $20,000 to cover basic expenses like food, housing, and childcare for 30 days. The amount of money they’re asking for is manageable and what they are asking for is concrete. 

When you make an appeal for funds, make sure that you pick an achievable amount. Be honest about the costs associated with the items you need to cover and set a time frame. Short timelines give donors a sense of urgency. Especially if they know there is a certain time that your rent is due or that funds will run out. 

Write an Appeal

Telling your story is one of the most compelling ways you can raise funds for your business. Here are some common best practices for writing an appeal:

Express Need: Clearly state your needs and why you’re asking for donations.

Explain Urgency: Iterate what will happen if you don’t reach your fundraising goals.

Tell Your Story: Give real examples with real people from your business. 

Call To Action: Ask donors to give. Make sure your ask is clear and concise. 

Here’s an example of a call to action you from the Canadians Care campaign, an initiative aimed at supporting local restaurants and delivering meals to hospitals:

“In addition to your donation, please PAY IT FORWARD and support our restaurants with your business during these trying economic times.  Let’s keep our community thriving.

Consider providing quotes from employees that really hit home the dire situation so that people understand how important it is to give. 


Silk Stone, a woman, minority-owned business that specializes in natural hair and skincare products, tells a very personal story about their family struggles to let donors know exactly where their dollars are going:

“We have somehow been able to continue our mission to bridge the cultural gaps and create products and services to help our community and environment. We have been struggling for the past few years because of family emergencies and I have had to go overseas to be with my family.  My absence made our business suffer immensely. I have been working hard to bring it back up in the past year but the COVID-19 has put us in a position where we simply are unable to continue supporting our business and our family. It was a very hard decision for us to ask for help, as we have always tried our best to rely on our hard work and to do our best to face challenges. These are hard times for everyone and our heart goes out to everyone else who is struggling. We are doing what we can to help our clients and work hard to stay in business. But, unfortunately, we are extremely affected by the state of current circumstances and we are in dire need of some help.

We are a small family that solely relies on our business to earn our livelihood. Any amount donated is much appreciated! Money raised with this campaign will help us in paying running expenses, taking care of our staff to keep them with us, and supporting our future. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our story. Feel free to reach us if you have any questions or have any comments. Please share us with your friend and family, it will mean a lot for us.”

Get Creative

Consider how you can get your donors involved. The more invested potential donors feel in your cause, the more likely they are to give. Any of the following are excellent options you can consider for your business.

Online Action:

  • A live stream update and a thank you to your donors for supporting your business
  • Ask followers to post a picture or a memory of a time they enjoyed your business (and tag you!)
  • Ask followers to share your fundraiser on their social media pages

Giveaways/Personalized Thank Yous:

  • Company swag, a free meal, or a coupon
  • A shout out on social media by tagging their handle
  • A gratitude board that you can hang up on the wall of your business when you re-open
  • A personalized note from an employee that directly benefited from the donation

Here’s 14 virtual fundraising event ideas to help you brainstorm more ways you can raise funds for your small business during the Coronavirus pandemic.


Essential Elements Yoga & Massage provides a great example of an incentive. Although she is asking for donations, she’s also providing a discount for her services during this difficult time to help keep her business moving. 

You can incorporate these creative thank-yous into donation tiers as well; the more the donor gives, the greater the thank-you. 

Another great way to create your giving levels is to tie each donation tier to impact. Ie: a $15 donation covers 1 missed hour of work for an employee, a $60 donation covers a shift, etc.

Donation Tiers from the Canadians Care campaign, an initiative that purchases meals from local restaurants and delivers them to hospitals.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

If you have co-owners, invested staff, and any other willing participants, consider setting up a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.


In the example above, Alexandra organized this fundraiser on behalf of her coworkers at Rudy’s Bar and Grille with the goal of distributing 100% of the donations evenly among all employees. 

CauseVox makes it easy to create a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign without the clutter. Fundraisers can set up their own page on any device in just 60 seconds and pages are conveniently shareable to any social media platform. Start your own peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

Set Up Your Own Page 

You’ve no doubt have invested a lot of time into your branding for your business and have created a unique atmosphere for your customers. Your online fundraising campaign should be no different.

Setting up your own campaigns site with your own branding is important. With your logo and colors displayed on your campaign site, you’re creating your virtual storefront, and will be able to remind your customers of some of the things that they love about your business.

With familiar branding, your customers will be more willing to trust the site, while elevating the look and feel of the campaign so that it looks professional. 

When you’re telling your personal story, you don’t want a third-party site’s branding all over it, you want it to look and feel like you, so your customers recognize it. Donations made on a branded donation form are, on average, 38% larger than contributions made through a generic PayPal page.


For example, the Hebrew Free Loan Society used CauseVox to launch their campaign to support free loans for small businesses affected by the Coronavirus in New York City.

Their branded campaign page looks professional and engaging without any third-party branding, and has provided a great experience for their donors — helping them raise over $350,000 to support free small business loans so far.

With CauseVox you can easily set up your fundraising page to look just like your own branding, and you don’t have to hire an expensive web developer to do it. It’s easy to make your page look polished with your own brand colors, images, and more, with just a few clicks. 

Raise Funds For Free On CauseVox

From one small business to another, we wanted to do our part during this difficult time. Small businesses and restaurants can raise funds for free easily on CauseVox.

Typical fundraising software is clunky, complex, and contract-bound, but CauseVox actually tidies up your digital fundraising. Run donation pages, crowdfunding, and peer to peer fundraising in less time, without hassle.

Start raising funds for free on CauseVox.

Simplify and grow your fundraising

It honestly felt like using CauseVox expanded our team by another member.

    Easy-to-use Free to get started Cancel anytime