Members Project Submissions Due 8/19

Both VISA and American Express have been on the leading edge when it comes to leveraging social networks. I covered VISA’s recent programs with Facebook rather extensively in my article for iMediaConnection. So here’s a quick update on one of the more interesting efforts by American Express called the Members Project including this overview from MediaPost’s Marketing Daily:

For its second year, American Express has expanded the scope of its social responsibility, “Members Project,” making it easier for people to help shape projects that fit their interests, beefing up its online presence, and devoting more money to more projects.

“We’re putting more focus in how we leverage online,” says Belinda Lang, vice president of consumer marketing strategy at American Express. “We’re trying to make it that much easier for people to engage with us.”

To help get the word out about the Members Project and the individual ideas, American Express has developed a vast array of online tools, from Facebook and MySpace presences to widgets and online badges people can use to promote their projects. The initial phase of the Members Project–where people create and hone ideas for good works– will also be advertised heavily online, Lang tells Marketing Daily. “This is an online experience–our goal is to take advantage of what’s going on with that space,” she says.

A quick visit to the Members Project site and you can see this is a well thought through program and one that they expect to grow over time. With $2.5 million in “seed money” to support 25 projects that can “make a difference” locally, nationally or globally, AmEx is hoping to empower card holders to take charge instead of just charging (some more stuff). It is hard to imagine a more fulfilling “service” for AmEx to provide than one that helps their customers change the world for the better. And oh by the way, if saving the world is your thing, submissions are due 8/19!


One of the five finalists offered this video appeal:

7 thoughts on “Members Project Submissions Due 8/19

  1. I’m wondering if you are aware of what American Express can do with proposals submitted to Members Projects? I think that any individual or legitimate organization concerned with the rights of individuals should be very concerned about American Express and their Members Project.

    I just submitted a proposed project to this competition. Throughout their site they prominently display the following: “Your ideas. Your decision. Our money.” However, as I found out from a colleague after I submitted my project that the “Terms and Conditions” contradict their statement about “your ideas,” etc. In fact, once you submit a project all ideas and intellectual property are owned by American Express. They could take your project and do it without you. The actual statement (which is not particularly easy to find) is:

    User Content/Assignment: You irrevocably assign to American Express all rights (including copyrights) in any ideas or expressions of ideas that you provide on or through the Project Site, including without limitation the Project Submission and all comments, suggestions, graphics, ideas (including product and advertising ideas), and other information or materials you submit on the Discussion Boards and otherwise on or through the Project Site (collectively, “User Content”), all of which will become and remain the exclusive property of American Express, including any future rights associated with such materials. American Express and its licensees and designees shall have the right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, create derivative works from, distribute, and display the User Content for any purpose (including without limitation for purposes of advertising, publicizing, and promoting Members Project, other versions of Members Project, and/or American Express or its affiliates), in any media whatsoever, now or hereafter known, throughout the universe in perpetuity, without compensation (monetary or otherwise) or notice to you (collectively, “Usage Rights”). Notwithstanding the foregoing, you (and applicable third parties) shall retain all ownership rights to any Support Material you provide (other than the audio recording of your personal message, which shall be owned by American Express), but hereby grant to American Express and its licensees and designees all Usage Rights (subject to any limitations specifically identified to American Express in writing with respect to any third-party element incorporated in the Support Material).

    You release and waive all claims against the American Express Parties with respect to any intellectual property or other proprietary rights, rights of privacy and publicity, rights of attribution, or any other liability under the governing law of the United States.
    I found this to be shockingly sleazy. My professional work is tied to my project, and this presents a huge problem, as I’m sure it does for you.

    I wrote to American Express to withdraw my project and they said they couldn’t do it, even though the following appears on their site:

    Q: Can I withdraw my project?
    A: Yes. If you withdraw your project, it will be noted as withdrawn on the site. Once you withdraw a project, you may submit a new project if the submission deadline has not passed. You also may recommend another project to support, if you wish.

    You may want to investigate this further.

    Best of luck.

  2. Jeff-I understand your frustration especially about not being able to withdraw your project. My sense is that you should push them on this. As for the bigger issue you raised, I suspect that AmEx lawyers are mainly interested in the ability to promote the projects submitted. Clearly, if they were to misappropriate the IP of any Member Project, then it would defeat the whole purpose of the program which is to generate good will among all the participants and the world at large. Every blogger in the marketing and financial world not to mention the press would jump on AmEx faster than you can say Green Card if they were to steal an idea generated from this program.

  3. Got this today:
    Because you’ve written about another organization nominated for the American Express Members Projects on your blog, The Drew Blog, I would like to ask for your help. My organization, International Medical Corps focuses on feeding hungry children around the world, and we are very excited to have made the final 5 nominated projects out of 1,190 worthwhile projects. “Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children” is now eligible to receive up to $1.5 million to help feed hungry and malnourished children and we would be thrilled if you would help us. I’ve put together this blogger friendly news release explaining everything.

    If you could vote for us and post about this on your blog to encourage your readers to vote too, it would really help spread the message and could save many lives. Voting ends October 13th and is simple and free. Please let me know if you can help. Thanks.


    Chessia Kelley, International Medical Corps

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