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Smart Partnership Case Study – MADD and Uber

By Allison Gauss

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

The problems that many startups and young companies today seek to address are often intertwined with social causes that organizations like yours support. As such, these same businesses that shake up traditional industries like transportation and hospitality also present new partnership opportunities for social impact organizations.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)’s partnership with the ridesharing app Uber, is just one example of how nonprofits can work with startups and innovative businesses to better solve problems. Furthermore, the right partnership can help nonprofits reach new audiences to spread information and awareness.

MADD’s Impact on Driving Culture

MADD was founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. This nationwide organization works to bring victims and the larger community together to educate people and eradicate drunk driving. Their campaigns show the human consequences of impaired driving in order to communicate the dangers and tragedy around this problem.

One of the ways MADD has impacted drinking and driving culture is by creating the concept of the “designated driver” in 1986. Some of their other initiatives are advocating for sobriety checkpoints and in-car breathalyzers for drunk drivers.

Since MADD’s founding, their education and awareness programs have helped to reduce the number of drunk driving deaths by half. Little did they know that 30 years later, the way people travel in urban and suburban environments would be revolutionized by ridesharing.

A Modern Solution to Drunk Driving

Uber, the world’s largest ridesharing app, was founded in 2009 and now operates in 70 countries. While taxis and public transportation systems have been around for much longer, ridesharing has gained immense popularity because it makes transportation as simple as pushing a button. Uber, and apps like it, make it easier and more affordable than ever to get you and your friends home safely. Studies have found that the number of people killed in drunk driving car crashes decreases after Uber becomes available in a city.

Because ridesharing is making such a difference in the area of drunk driving, MADD decided to team up with Uber to spread awareness, naming it their official “Designated Driving App.” The two organizations also worked together to conduct a study on how rideshare technology prevents drunk driving deaths.

MADD and Uber logos

In an interview with Amy George, MADD’s Senior Vice President of Giving, Marketing, and Communications, she said, “What I completely love about our partnership with Uber, and just rideshare in general, is that it evolves and elevates the conversation of the designated driver.”

Connecting With Uber’s Audience

MADD’s partnership with Uber was also a way for the nonprofit to connect with young adults. “We get some interesting engagement from those that are in school and through college and then we hit this gap until 35. So, what we’ve been doing is aligning ourselves with brands that have a really strong constituent or customer base in that 21- to 34-year-old age range, to help us bridge that gap,” George explained. Many nonprofits struggle to reach certain age groups or demographics and a partnership like this can introduce your cause to a new audience.

MADD also helps users advocate for the legalization of ridesharing, which has faced government opposition in some cities. “A lot of times we will see them go and take a social action on our website.  They might send a message to their legislator saying ‘Hey I support rideshare in my community so I can have a safe ride home.’” Because Uber helps people make smart choices about drunk driving, MADD helps mobilize users to advocate for the company. It’s truly a win-win partnership.

“We’ve really seen, through research, a reduction in drunk driving since rideshare has entered markets across the country.  This is a really important tool to help us solve drunk driving for the future,” said George.


The next time you hear about the latest startup or app, think about whether it relates to your cause. It could be a valuable and smart partnership that helps you connect with an audience you’ve been missing.

Interested in learning more about partnerships that drive impact? Check out the guide below.

The Guide to Pitching Corporate Sponsors

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