Facebook has pledged to give $100 million in small-business grants to help struggling businesses emerge from this pandemic — and $15 million in grants will be reserved for the Bay Area.
The company announced the $100 million grant fund last month (it includes both cash grants and ad credits on Facebook), and it extends beyond the U.S. to make businesses with 2 to 50 employees eligible in any country where Facebook operates.
"We know that your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19," the company said in a statement. "We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so we are offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time."
Now, as the Business Times reports, we learn that $15 million in grants will be earmarked just for eligible Bay Area small businesses. And the company has launched a gift card discovery site — not unlike the one launched two weeks ago by Instagram co-founder and former Facebook employee Mike Krieger and his wife — to help customers find businesses in their area to support by purchasing gift cards.
Of the $100 million overall fund, Facebook says 50 percent will be reserved woman-, veteran-, and minority-owned businesses. Facebook Global Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams said in a statement that this is "due to the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 will have on these businesses, their employees and the communities that they service."
And Facebook already has fundraising tools for both nonprofits and small businesses — although in a message on the site, Facebook says, "We have fewer people available to review fundraisers because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. [And] Because we're also trying hard to prioritize the review of fundraisers related to COVID-19, we may be unable to review your fundraiser or it may take longer than usual."
Other Bay Area tech companies have stepped up in various ways. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff pledged $1 million to the UCSF coronavirus response fund and another $500,000 to the CDC emergency response fund, and the company is matching all donations from employees.
Facebook already donated 375,000 masks and 867,000 pairs of gloves to healthcare workers in multiple Bay Area counties, and announced two weeks ago that it would be donating another 720,000 N95 and surgical masks to healthcare workers around the world, along with 1.5 million pairs of gloves.
Intel announced last week that it was donating 1 million masks and other protective gear from its own storehouses to healthcare workers. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey announced today that he's pledging $1 billion of his own wealth — part of his equity in Square and around 28 percent of his net worth — to helping people affected by the pandemic. (He's posted a public spreadsheet in order to be fully transparent about where the $1 billion is distributed.) And Square is waiving subscription fees for March and April for customers of its payment software.
Photo: Alex Haney