Lyft Successfully Capitalizing On Nice-Guy Image As Uber Stumbles

Lyft starts a charity program that riders can donate part of their fares to.

Uber may have the higher valuation, but Lyft is trouncing it in the PR game.

Starting May 1, Lyft riders will have the option of rounding up their fares to the nearest dollar and donating the proceeds to charity.

The ride-hailing company first announced the program last month, revealing Thursday that it will funnel its first month’s donations to the United Service Organization, a nonprofit that supports members of the U.S. armed forces.

A company spokesperson told HuffPost they selected the USO because 10 percent of Lyft drivers are veterans. May is also Military Appreciation Month.

Lyft says it will add more organizations in the future, enabling riders to pitch in and select causes from “climate change to the pursuit of equality.” The program will roll out on Android first, with iOS coming soon. Users will have to opt in by selecting “Round Up & Donate” under the “Settings” tab: 

A screengrab of Lyft's new "Round Up & Donate" program, set to debut on Android devices May 1.
A screengrab of Lyft's new "Round Up & Donate" program, set to debut on Android devices May 1.

Lyft’s PR wins ― coupled with Uber’s numerous missteps ― are turning into real-world gains for the company.

Documents obtained by Bloomberg show Lyft’s ridership more than doubled in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year (though Lyft, like Uber, is still losing money).

And earlier this month, the company raised an additional $500 million in funding at a valuation of around $7 billion. At the same time, Uber’s far-larger valuation has reportedly tumbled from a high near $70 billion to a “mere” $50 billion.

Despite Lyft’s gains, however, Uber remains the undisputed ride-hailing champion. Based on Bloomberg’s first-quarter data, Lyft’s annual run rate sits at just over $3 billion ― Uber’s is more than six times that.