Lyft pursues millennials, Uber riders with charitable Round Up & Donate program
- Lyft is launching a program called Round Up & Donate which rounds up riders' fares to the nearest whole dollar in support of various causes ranging from climate change to equality, the ride-hailing company announced in a blog post. The voluntary program will go into effect in a few weeks.
- VentureBeat reported Round Up & Donate is the latest in a string of altruistic initiatives from Lyft, which appears to be promoting itself as sort of anti-Uber. Lyft announced it would donate $1 million to the ACLU amid backlash against Uber for running its service during protests against President Donald Trump's travel ban.
- The organizations benefiting from Round Up & Donate haven’t been named, but Lyft vice president of marketing Melissa Waters told USA Today the program will start doling out money to one before branching out to several.
Round Up & Donate is another feather in Lyft’s virtuous cap. As Uber is slammed by scandal after scandal, these moves come as a smart bit of counter-positioning that might convince frustrated riders to switch services.
Lyft has already gained a lot from Uber’s misfortunes by coopting the #DeleteUber movement in January. At the time, Lyft jumped ahead of Uber in the App Store, per Mashable, and 200,000 people deleted their Uber accounts.
Round-up undertakings are increasingly common ways for companies to get consumers involved in charitable activities. The group Round It Up America enlisted restaurants the likes of California Pizza Kitchen and Tony Roma’s in a round-up effort to fight hunger. Members of Rite Aid’s wellness program can round up every purchase to the nearest whole dollar to back KidCents, a program dedicated to improving the health of children.
Societal worthiness aside, philanthropic programs such as Round Up & Donate are instituted with Uber and Lyft's target demographic in mind: urban-dwelling millennials. Survey after survey has concluded millennials have a soft spot for giving back. One of the latest by Morning Consult for Fortune found that 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely than their older counterparts to shell out for products from a company that contributes to charity and recommend that company to peers.
Lyft could certainly elevate its image in the eyes of potential riders with Round Up & Donate and additional good deeds, but the company could also open itself up to enhanced scrutiny. Ryan Price, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild, mentioned to USA Today that Lyft has cut driver pay and described a “mixed picture” for drivers working for the service. Lyft, along with Uber, has been criticized for being detrimental to employment security.
Even if its philanthropic initiatives help its business and the world generally, Lyft has a long road ahead to catch up to Uber in awareness and reach. USA Today approximated Lyft operates in 300 U.S. cities and its market share is at 21.3% following Uber’s stumbles. Uber’s market share is over 75%, and it has a presence in around 600 cities in 80 countries. Lyft is valued at $7 billion, and Uber’s valuation is close to $70 billion.