How small businesses hit by coronavirus can get aid

Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses: Six Ways to Get Help

How small businesses hit by coronavirus can get aid

Millions of businesses across the US are feeling the financial strain of the coronavirus after closing their doors to uphold social distancing practices recommended by the CDC. Because many consumers have practiced self-isolation in varying degrees since March to curb the spread of COVID-19, this means small businesses face potentially devastating financial challenges.

If you’re one of the 30 million small business owners in the US who is worried about the future, or you’re already struggling to survive, know that there are avenues for financial assistance. The six ideas below aim to offer coronavirus relief for small businesses.

Start a fundraiser

1. Federal assistance

To help combat the financial fallout from the coronavirus, the government is offering special loans for small business owners. The U.S.

Small Business Administration (SBA) has created a plan to help small businesses affected by coronavirus through affordable loan options. The disaster assistance loans for small businesses program will offer interest rates of 3.

75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere, and interest rates of 2.75% for nonprofits. The SBA offers long-term repayment options on these loans of up to 30 years. Businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible for these loans.

Additionally, the SBA implemented multiple other coronavirus relief options that may apply to your business. Be sure to check out their coronavirus relief options to see how they apply to your business.

The Paycheck Protection Program, rolled out to support small business owners as a part of the $2 trillion coronavirus aid package, closed on August 8, 2020.

That said, there is still one more way to seek federal assistance as a small business.

Eligible businesses can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan that, if granted, will provide businesses with a low-interest loan that they will be required to pay back over time.

Learn more about how to apply for one of these loans as well as other financial assistance options through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s small business loans page.

2. Leniency from credit card companies

Many credit card companies have released statements announcing that they’ll be giving COVID-19 relief for small businesses too. They’re doing this by waiving service fees for 30 days, or offering other types of disaster relief assistance for small businesses. For example, Citibank recently announced that they’ll waive monthly service fees and fees incurred for early CD withdrawal.

Be sure to check with your bank or credit card company to find out if they are offering any special services during the COVID-19 pandemic, or other business resources. During times of crisis, many lenders and credit card companies are willing to negotiate on payment timelines and fees.

See this list of banks helping customers who are impacted by the coronavirus.

3. State and local resources

COVID-19 relief for businesses varies across different states, cities, and counties. For example, Washington State is offering no-interest loans for businesses that are enduring economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, New York City has launched the city’s Employee Retention Grant Program to help retain employees as businesses face decreased revenue.

Check with your state’s chamber of commerce to find out what financial assistance and loan options exist in your area for your small business.

4. Coronavirus help for small business through crowdfunding

Fundraising for coronavirus expenses can be a lifeline when your business is struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. While grants, loans, and stimulus measures can help greatly, it can take weeks—and even months—to receive that type of assistance. But with crowdfunding, you’re able to receive emergency financial assistance much faster.

Many people who are financially secure are now looking to help those affected by COVID-19—and crowdfunding gives them a way to easily do that. Your customers want to show their support and lend a hand to their favorite local business, but they may not know how. With online fundraising, loyal customers have an actionable way to step up and help you when you and your business need it most.

Use crowdfunding to pay for any of these expenses and more during the pandemic:

  • Your monthly rent or mortgage payment
  • Health insurance for your employees
  • Paid sick time for your employees who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Crisis pay for employees who aren’t sick but are work
  • Employees who need time off to care for or teach their children
  • Any other operational expenses you’re struggling to pay

If your business has already started a GoFundMe and you have questions about how to set up withdrawal to your business bank account, please take a look at our article on business and organization withdrawals.

Receive a $500 grant through GoFundMe’s coronavirus Small Business Relief Fund

GoFundMe has started a Small Business Relief Fund to help small business owners receive the financial support they need to keep their businesses thriving throughout the coronavirus pandemic—and long after.

Through the Small Business Relief Fund, qualifying businesses that have raised at least $500 on GoFundMe can receive a matching $500 grant.

To find out if you’re eligible and learn about the process, read the Small Business Initiative FAQs.

Further reading:

  • The Best Fundraising Tips for Small Businesses
  • Support Black-Owned Businesses in Your Community and Beyond
  • Help Small Businesses Affected by the Coronavirus

Real businesses that have started successful fundraisers

Countless businesses have been saved by crowdfunding. Below are just two examples of small businesses that turned to online fundraising during a personal financial crisis.


After making the decision to close through the end of March, the owners of the Hideout Tavern in Chicago, Illinois knew their staff would be hurting financially. They launched a virtual tip jar fundraiser as a way to support their staff during COVID-19, and their customers and supporters donated over $24,000 in just five days.


Warp and Weft, a comfort food restaurant in Lowell, Massachusetts, had to close its doors because of COVID-19. To offset their weekly expenses of over $10,000, the business owners started a GoFundMe that raised over $6,000 in just two days from local supporters.

5. Tax payment extension

To help those affected by the pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is providing small business relief for coronavirus. The IRS announced that it was giving both individuals and businesses a 90-day extension to pay tax fees.

Now individuals can delay making tax payments up to $1 million, and businesses can delay making payments up to $10 million. Everyone will still need to file their taxes by April 15, 2020, but won’t need to pay on owed taxes until July 15.

Amazon’s Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund

Amazon has pledged $5 million through a small business relief fund to help small businesses in need in the Seattle area. Businesses are eligible for grants if they have fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue. Amazon reviews all applications and disburses funds as quickly as possible.

’s Small Business Grant Program

is making $100 in cash grants and ad credits available to small businesses in over 30 countries. The grant money can be used to cover operational costs, take care of employees, pay rent, and more. says it will start taking applications in the coming weeks, and businesses can sign up for updates on their grant page.

With a little help, your business will weather the storm

Though the coronavirus pandemic leaves a lot of uncertainty in our future, rest assured that your customers and supporters want to help you survive. Fundraising can help you navigate this financially stressful period, and our Donate Button makes it easy to share your cause online. Start a GoFundMe today and get financial relief for your small business right away.

Create a GoFundMe

Additional coronavirus resources:


Coronavirus: Guide to Federal Small Business Stimulus Aid Programs

How small businesses hit by coronavirus can get aid
Continuing updates on new legislation will be provided as it becomes available and as it pertains to business owners struggling in the wake of the coronavirus. — Getty Images/brightstars

This story was updated 3/19/2021.

Between March 2020 and March 2021, Congress has passed multiple massive pieces of legislation to help individuals and businesses make it through the pandemic’s economic turmoil. These packages have included forgivable loans, direct payments, tax credits, grants, expanded unemployment benefits and more.

Both Trump and Biden administrations have implemented various programs and administrative changes throughout the pandemic. The most recent coronavirus bill is the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed into law by President Biden in March 2021.

During the pandemic, so many federal aid programs and policy changes have passed that it might be hard for small businesses to keep track of them all. Below are the top coronavirus aid programs and policy changes small businesses should know.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

One of the most extensive programs Congress passed to help businesses survive the pandemic is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was initially passed as part of the CARES Act and later modified multiple times. Since the PPP was authorized in March 2020, more than $700 billion in forgivable loans has been distributed to businesses.

PPP loans are issued by private lenders, credit unions and nonbank lenders but are backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The essential purpose of the PPP is to get small businesses to keep workers on payroll and to rehire laid-off workers. As long as businesses spend the allocated funds in approved ways, the full amount of the loan can be forgiven.

Businesses can apply for first- and second-draw PPP loans through March 31, 2021, but that deadline may be extended. They should start by talking with an existing lender first, but if that does not pan out, the SBA also has a tool called Lender Match that can help find approved PPP lenders.

Read more about PPP here.

Stimulus payments

Another significant way the federal government has attempted to help individuals and small businesses is the distribution of direct payments.

In 2020, payments of $1,200 and $600 were disbursed to individuals that reported adjusted gross income of $75,000 a year or less or couples who jointly file with a gross income of less than $150,000 a year.

In 2021, a payment of $1,4000 was authorized by Congress with similar income limits. While these payments are designed to help a wide swath of Americans, they can also help small business owners that qualify.

Read more about stimulus payments from the IRS.

COBRA Health care subsidies

One of the most significant new policy changes for employers in the ARPA is the inclusion of new COBRA health care premium subsidies for employees who have been laid off or terminated.

Employers are required to offer COBRA coverage to the majority of former employees for up to 18 months. Still, the former employee often has to pay the total cost of the coverage without the employer subsidizing the cost. The ARPA changes this so employers, plans or insurers must provide subsidized COBRA coverage to eligible individuals from April 1 through September 30, 2021.

While employers will incur higher upfront costs, the ARPA also created new advanceable and refundable tax credits to offset the costs. Employers (or plans or insurers) are able to recover the cost by claiming a tax credit against standard payroll taxes.

Read more about COBRA subsidy changes here.

Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grants

Congress created the Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grant program in December 2020 to help live venues that were harmed by COVID-19 restrictions. The SVO grant program will distribute $16 billion in funds to live venue operators, including eligible movie theaters, concert spaces, museums and performing arts organizations.

A significant change in the SVO grants occurred in March 2021, with the ARPA revising eligible venues. As of this writing, venues can receive first and second-draw PPP loans and still apply for SVO grants, but grant amounts will be reduced by the value of their PPP loans.

These grants will be administered directly by the SBA, and the application portal is expected to open on April 8, 2021. Notably, interested applicants should create a user account, obtain a D-U-N-S number, and sign up for immediately if they want to apply quickly.

Read more about the SVO grants here.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants

One of the most significant parts of the ARPA is the new Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). This $28.6 billion grant program will specifically target hard-hit restaurants and bars. Affected entities will be able to apply for grants lost gross revenue between 2019 and 2020, with maximum grant sizes totaling $5 million for restaurants and $10 million for restaurant groups.

Similar to the SVO grants, RRF grants will be administered directly by the SBA. As of mid-March 2021, applications are not open yet, but they are expected to open soon. Interested applicants should create a user account, obtain a D-U-N-S number, and sign up for immediately if they want the chance to apply when the portal opens.

Read more about RRF grants here.

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

The EIDL loan program existed prior to the pandemic, but Congress created a new subset of EIDLs to provide low-cost loan options to businesses trying to survive COVID-19. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations may qualify for EIDL loans with a 3.75% fixed rate for companies and a 2.75% fixed rate for nonprofits.

Un PPP loans, traditional EIDL loans are not forgivable. However, the SBA does operate a separate COVID-19 Targeted EIDL Advance funding that is forgivable. Businesses can apply directly with the SBA for EIDL loans.

Read more about COVID-19 EIDL loans here.

Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)

A vital tax credit every business with fewer than 500 employees should know is the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). The ERTC was first created in the CARES Act in March 2020, but it was not accessible for many businesses. Since that time, the ERTC has been modified and expanded by Congress twice so many more companies can use it.

Businesses that experienced a decline in gross receipts by more than 20% in any quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019 are eligible.

As of March 2021, this refundable tax credit can be worth up to $7,000 per employee per quarter.

This means companies could receive a credit for $28,000 per employee during 2021, a substantial sum that can help companies recover to pre-pandemic revenue numbers.

Read more about the ERTC here.

Expanded family and sick leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law in March 2020 with the goal of providing assistance to employees and households affected by COVID-19. One important provision was making it possible for employers with fewer than 500 employees to receive tax credits to cover the costs of emergency paid sick leave.

The employer tax credits for FFCRA benefits were first expanded in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) through March 31, 2021. Then the ARPA extended the same tax credits through September 30, 2021. Under the current law, employers are not required to offer sick leave, but if they choose to, they can receive tax credits for up to $5,000 per employee.

Read more about the new family and sick leave changes here.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners stories.

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners stories.

Watch the replay from our latest Roadmap for Rebuilding event, where the panel offers the strategies you need to build a cohesive and productive team, even in this new normal of remote work.

Published March 19, 2021


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