Lyft has always been the happier, friendlier transportation app, denoted by those loveable pink mustaches affixed to every bumper, the enthusiastic drivers who fist-bump you when you slide into their rides, and now an official commitment to feel-good initiatives.
The ride-sharing company on Thursday launched Lyft for Good, a platform that encourages drivers to give back to their communities. Lyft is asking users, drivers, local politicians, and community organizations to submit ideas for charitable initiatives in cities where the app operates.
A company spokesperson said a Lyft staffer will provide funds and planning resources to help the ideas come to life. The company is aiming to support at least 100 initiatives this year.
The program is an official umbrella for activities that Lyft drivers have already been involved with, like "Lyft Kit" packages for the homeless during Nashville's unusually cold winter and next week's partnership with Meals on Wheels in San Francisco where drivers will deliver disaster preparedness kits to low-income seniors.
Lyft for Good uses drivers' down time to foster goodwill in cities that are still wary of the app and its legality (or its insurance issues). It's also a stark contrast to other transportation apps that surprise users with exorbitant surge prices. Lyft wants to present itself as the softer side of ride-sharing, to make the phenomenon less controversial. After all, who can hate on a company that gives back to its community and offers happy hour discounts?
"As we set root in cities, we commit to becoming a true force for good in our communities starting from the day we launch," the company noted in a Thursday blog post.
An official philanthropy program sets Lyft apart. Sharing economy companies tend to launch outside of a city's regulatory authority--or make the case that current laws don't apply to these new business models--and immediately make enemies with that approach. Lyft for Good will help Lyft make friends, and maybe those friends will have the power to change transportation law.