AMEX added a Project Starter Toolkit to the Members Project Web site this year to help participants craft and promote their campaigns, which can be anything that aims to make a positive impact in one of six fields: health, arts and culture, community and development, education, and environment and wildlife. Participants can also gather in “mini-communities” online to share interests. AMEX also added a Facebook group where members and non-members can congregate. Visitors are encouraged to join, as well as create their own pages to generate buzz.
“This started as part of an overall effort to keep the brand relevant to customers,” said Belinda Lang, VP of consumer marketing strategy at American Express. This is the Members Project's second year.
AMEX says its cardmembers have already grouped themselves around like interests, which prompted it to create the Members Know site for travel enthusiasts.
“Cardmembers want to talk to other cardmembers; they've said they have shared interest,” Lang said. “Using the Web, social Web sites, and other interactive channels has become such an important part of how our cardmembers manage their daily lives, we're using it more.”
Although the project doesn't officially begin accepting ideas until July 22, this year's effort began on June 17 as part of a “get ready” period, extra time that was granted based on feedback from last year's participants.
Cardmembers will have until August 19 to suggest a philanthropic project of interest. Voting to narrow down the field continues until one top project is selected for a $1.5 million reward, announced on October 14. Four other top vote getters will be awarded an additional $1 million total. Awards are given to charitable organizations that can execute the project.
Last year, a “children's safe drinking water” project was selected and $2 million was given to UNICEF for the effort.