Lyft is taking a page right from Ride Austin with a feature that allows riders to donate part of their fare to charity. Called Round Up & Donate, it’s a test being conducted by the on-demand ride hailing service that rounds up fares to the nearest dollar, with the remainder donated to a specific charity. So if your standard fare was $12.57, for example, Lyft would charge you $13.00 and allow you to donate the $0.43 to a select organization.
Round Up & Donate is optional, so you won’t have to fret that the company will automatically take a higher fare if you don’t donate. This test will be rolling out in the next few weeks and Lyft has not disclosed the charities it’s supporting.
This isn’t the first time the company has supported charities as it has in the past helped raise money for Meals on Wheels and other groups. But rather than in an ad hoc approach, Lyft is perhaps looking for something more permanent, banking on an idea that former competitor Ride Austin has received praise for. Following Uber and Lyft’s departure from the Austin, Texas market, several ridesharing companies stepped in to try and fill the gap. Ride Austin had a unique premise: It would make charitable donations with each fare. In February, the company said it has donated more than $100,000 to charity.
Now that Lyft is more widely available nationwide than it was in 2016, having a donation mechanism could help generate a lot more money for those in need, especially for organizations that are fighting climate change or supporting equality. And although the company hasn’t listed which charities are going to be initially supported, it’s likely a mixture of national and local groups could be represented, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which Lyft said it would donate $1 million over four years to, local area food banks, and others.
Riders may think that all ridesharing services are the same — what’s the difference between Uber and Lyft? Although the former is more widely available globally and has more resources to further it’s domination in the market, it has repeatedly stumbled with crisis after crisis, such as those around sexual harassment allegations, arguing with drivers, and seemingly circumventing the law. Lyft is slowly seeking to capitalize on this by marketing itself as the anti-Uber, showing that it’s a night-and-day scenario where drivers are treated better, you can tip, and now can help save the world by donating to charities.
“The power of this community is yours. You made it. And whether you tap in, or just keep doing your bit by riding, you’re sitting on a changemaker,” the company wrote in a blog post.