Dave Portnoy, the founder of media company Barstool Sports, has raised over $40 million for 400 small businesses as of Monday, July 19, 2021. He launched the fundraiser with the 30 Day Fund, a nonprofit that helps communities and. Using their open-source technology, he created the fundraiser for small businesses affected by the pandemic, calling it “The Barstool Fund.” He contributed $500,000 out of his own pocket to the fund.
So far, almost 200,000 people have donated to help keep businesses afloat while the pandemic rages on. While the government has offered some assistance, it’s not nearly enough to offset the business’s sharp decline. So far, Congress authorizedbetween last April and August, and $284 billion this time around. Second-time loans are limited to borrowers with 300 or fewer employees and cannot exceed $2 million.
Also, borrowers will have to prove a reduction of 25% in gross receipts during a quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter in 2019. This time around, the Paycheck Protection Program will focus on borrowers who didn’t receive a loan last year or who still need help. However, for those who can’t get government help, they’ve turned to the public for assistance.
People like Dave Portnoy have helped hundreds of businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. He only requires the business to submit their story and video submission for consideration. He says he wants to help as many people as he can.
Portnoy has been reaching out directly to wealthy entrepreneurs and athletes on social media to ask them for contributions to raise funds. The 30 Day Fund founders also agreed to donate $1 million to the fundraiser if it reached $14 million by midnight on New Year’s Eve. When Portnoy got on Twitter to reveal this news, the fund hit $17 million shortly after.
Business owners’ reactions to receiving help from The Barstool Fund
Portnoy has shared his interactions with business owners when they hear their application has been approved on social media. He says many owners become teary-eyed and can’t believe the news that they will get much-needed help.
One business in Wisconsin called Abbey Bar was among the first six restaurants to receive funds from the fundraiser. Owner Kerry Counard was behind the wheel when he heard the news his restaurant had been selected. He ended up having to pull over because he felt so shocked and overwhelmed by the unexpected financial help. He said his business had really suffered since they moved to take-out only.
Most of their business came from patrons who dined in, and the majority of them were college students. When the local university went virtual, they lost almost all that business. So, The Barstool Fund will help the restaurant stay afloat until the pandemic dies down a bit. Counard says The Abbey has been buying gift cards for frontline workers, such as nurses and teachers, using cash donations from customers. Despite the tragedies around us, many people have come together with acts of kindness such as these.
Connie R. Mama, the owner of Mama Mia 44SW, also got choked up during a phone call with Portnoy about being approved. The restaurant in New York City had experienced a few setbacks in the last few weeks. First, someone broke into the restaurant and stole all the liquor. Then, Connie had to shell out $12,000 for outdoor dining chairs and tables when New York banned indoor dining.
Connie’s mom passed last January, and she promised her that she would keep the business alive. With the challenges she’s faced during the pandemic, she started to doubt if she could keep that promise. However, with the money from Portnoy’s fundraiser, she feels much more hopeful and very grateful to have been chosen.
Portnoy wants to keep sharing stories like hers to keep people encouraged to donate.
In another video Portnoy posted to Twitter, he got on the phone with another restaurant owner, Frank Borelli. He owns Borelli’s in New York City and applied for the generous funding. When he got the news that his restaurant would start receiving donations, he too became teary-eyed. He said it was a struggle all year to keep his doors open.
In April of last year, they had to shut down, but they kept business going with takeout orders. When their doors opened again, they built an outdoor patio to accommodate customers. He had to cut his staff but kept paying them. He planned on closing this year because of a revenue loss, but he can stay in business with the funds.
How you can help small businesses keep their doors open
Many other business owners have been helped as well, and you can find all of them on the Barstool Fund’s . There, you can make a tax-deductible donation to support or buy merchandise from certain businesses. If you’re a small business owner and need help due to the pandemic, you can apply on the website as well.