“Virality is important,” said Matt Klein, the director of strategy at Sparks & Honey, a trends and insights consultancy. “Fund-raisers are simultaneously tasked with becoming emotional storytellers, self-promoters and social media marketing gurus to ensure their campaign gains traction.”
Monia Trezza, 45, who owns three Italian restaurants and wine bars in Brooklyn with her husband, both of whom are from Italy, has been hit doubly hard by the virus. “All of our suppliers, businesses, family, friends, they are affected by this,” she said. “First in Italy and now in New York.”
After being forced to close their restaurants last week, she started a GoFundMe campaign on March 22 to help support her businesses and the staff they employ, all of whom, she said, are Italian citizens and do not qualify for unemployment benefits.
Gaining traction has been hard. Ms. Trezza said she can hardly sleep at night, and when she wakes up her mind is racing. She and her husband have emailed their GoFundMe link to all of their contacts and posted it to the restaurants’ social media accounts.
But “we are not influencers,” she said. “If an influencer starts a GoFundMe, they have a lot of followers so they automatically get sharing. If you’re a little business like us, it’s not like that.”
Four days in, Ms. Trezza had raised $2,700 of her $25,000 goal.
‘We Can’t Validate Everything’
The inequality of outcomes in GoFundMe has long been a feature of the site, with the most web-savvy, socially connected organizers taking home the biggest hauls.