Austin is a city full of entrepreneurs, and RideCares is one of the newest programs helping our community’s nonprofits through regular business transactions. RideCares is an initiative that encourages Lyft and Uber drivers to give a portion of their tips to a nonprofit organization of their choice. We spoke with RideCares founder, Kyle Hoskins, about his innovative program.
What is RideCares? How does it work?
“RideCares gives Lyft and Uber drivers the opportunity to pledge a portion of their tips to raise funds and awareness for causes they’re passionate about. Drivers who wish to participate are provided car stickers to help inspire positive cause-related conversation, as well as a personal driver.ridecares.com website to tell why they support their cause and track progress.”
How long has RideCares been around and how did it come to be? What are some of your future plans for RideCares?
“RideCares in its current form launched in late August of 2015. RideCares originally started in August 2014 as a website I created to log my fundraising efforts driving Lyft to get late night party-goers home safely and donate 100% of the proceeds. I spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to share that wonderful experience with as many people as possible. Thus, RideCares was born. RideCares is proud to have started here in Austin, Texas, and while we already have one driver from another state, I hope to make RideCares a “household” amongst those who use Lyft and Uber in Austin and then expand outward from there!”
How do you recruit drivers to participate?
“RideCares drivers have started after talking to their drivers and hearing about the program on social media, but predominantly have joined from a wonderful community of fellow drivers: our Lyft Austin Weird Facebook group. Recruitment is also done through cyclic front/back business cards. Current drivers can hand a promo card to a passenger letting them know to go to their personal RideCares site where the passenger can vote for their favorite cause to receive a $25+ donation from RideCares every week. By voting, they’re also entered to win a weekly drawing for a $25 Lyft or Uber gift credit. Instead of throwing out the promo card, a popular demise for most business cards, the back side of the card is meant to be passed to help recruit their next driver to join in making a difference!”
How does the money get distributed to the nonprofits?
“RideCares donations are distributed directly from driver to nonprofit. Popular online fundraising websites act as a middle man and also take a cut. This results in about 3-10% of donations not reaching the organization. We encourage drivers to use methods like Paypal Giving Fund or Capital One No Hassle Giving to make their donations, because they cover the credit card fees involved in making a donation (normally 3%) so 100% reaches the organization! To ensure the integrity of drivers making donations, we make a “Pledged Tips Donation Guarantee,” which you can read more about on our website.”
Can Lyft/Uber riders purposely choose drivers who participate in RideCares? How do riders know their driver is a RideCares participant?
“A RideCares interaction with a driver is completely random! Lyft and Uber requests happen as usual, but you’ll know you found a driver who is giving back when you see a RideCares sticker displayed somewhere in their car. The spontaneity of finding a driver with a RideCares sticker makes the experience more memorable and impactful!”
How many drivers do you currently have participating in the program? How do they sign up?
“A few drivers sign up every week and we’re currently at about 15 drivers as we are closing out our first month. Drivers can find more information and sign up at http://www.ridecares.com/drive.”
How do drivers choose which cause to support? Is it Austin-based causes only?
“One of my favorite aspects of RideCares is being open to whatever cause a driver cares about: whether it be local, national or international. When a driver has a cause or causes they care about but doesn’t know which organization to support, we suggest supporting a local organization.”
Why did you decide to start this program? What do you hope comes out of it?
“I started RideCares because I saw an opportunity to transform a large amount of casual interactions into meaningful exchanges. Ridesharing is a unique platform of engagement where drivers welcome strangers into their personal world for 15 minutes at a time. Just imagine the good that can come when small talk transitions from work, the weather or planned activities into what people, both drivers and passengers in this case, are passionate about?
I hope RideCares gets to the point where passengers recognize the sticker and appreciate the drivers who are making a difference. When someone requests a Lyft or Uber ride, if they’re thinking, “I hope I get a RideCares driver!” then the positivity is already spreading.”
Thank you to Kyle Hoskins for making Austin greater by starting this great program, and a huge thanks to driver Rebecca K., who donates a portion of her tips to United Way for Greater Austin!