Aussie GoFundMe donations up 30% for 2020, with $2 million raised for small businesses

Lentil As Anything

Lentil As Anything's Abbotsford restaurant. Source: Lentil As Anything.

The COVID-19 crisis has seen more than $2 million donated through GoFundMe campaigns in 2020 to help small businesses cover their overheads, and about half of that cash went to businesses in Victoria.

GoFundMe’s Year In Giving 2020 report reveals some telling trends from 2020. In Australia, some 1.3 million donations were made in total — 30% more than in 2019.

Small business support was mostly across the hospitality, fitness and arts industries.

Among the most successful campaigns was Lentil As Anything’s campaign to keep its 20-year-old, pay-as-you-feel, community-focused kitchen alive.

The campaign set out to raise $150,000 to bring the restaurant back from the brink of closure. It ultimately raised just shy of $375,000, becoming the fifth-biggest Aussie goFundMe campaign of the year.

“We had no idea that the support was so strong,” Lentil As Anything founder Shanaka Fernando told SmartCompany in September.

“There’s goodwill over 20 years.”

Elsewhere, Melbourne comedy club raised $75,000 through crowdfunding; the historic Olympic Ice Skating Centre raised $68,000; and live music venue Mojo’s Bar raised $66,000.

This was all part of a broader trend that saw more Aussies dishing out cash to support people, businesses and workers in need during a particularly trying year.

“The trends seen on GoFundMe can often be an early warning sign of emerging societal issues, of a group of citizens falling through the cracks,” GoFundMe regional manager for Australia Nicola Britton said in a statement.

“This year saw more Australians turn to crowdfunding for needs that fall outside of traditional government or charitable support, from stranded travellers covering quarantine fees to return home, to bushfire-impacted farmers in need of fencing and PPE for frontline medical professionals.”

GoFundMe campaigns focused on recovery from the summer bushfire crisis reached a massive total of $31 million, and donations to community fundraisers in general were up 124%, compared to 2019.

Donations to causes focused on Indigenous rights were also up a massive 221%.

The biggest Aussie fundraiser was a campaign to help save koalas and other wildlife following the bushfires on Kangaroo Island, which raised $2.69 million. That was followed by a fire relief fund to support First Nations Communities, which raised $1.88 million.

“At the heart of the response is community,” Britton said.

“Community means something different for each and every Australian, we have seen community generosity in ways not witnessed before,” she added.

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