American Express Announces the Start of Members Project(R) Calling for Project Ideas That Will Make a Positive Impact

American Express announced today the official start of this year's Members Project (, the online initiative that invites Cardmembers to submit ideas for projects to make a positive impact on the world that American Express will fund with $2.5 million. In conjunction with the launch of Members Project, American Express unveiled new survey results which showed that 96 percent of Americans feel now, more than ever, the world needs great ideas to make a positive difference; 92 percent of Americans surveyed said that they believe in the power of ideas to help change the world. With Members Project, American Express puts the power of ideas into the hands of Cardmembers and, whether a Cardmember or not, everyone is invited to join the discussion and nominate their favorite projects online. This year, American Express will fund five winning projects; the top project will receive $1.5 million, the second place project will receive $500,000, the third place project will receive $300,000 and two additional projects in the Top Five will receive $100,000 in funding.

"Every idea has the potential for greatness, particularly when a community of supporters gets behind it," said Jud Linville, president and chief executive officer of Consumer Services, American Express. "Today is the official kick-off of Members Project, a unique way for people to come together and share their ideas, passions and beliefs that may help shape our future. And it's not just about ideas; it's about all participants galvanizing their own personal networks - friends, family members, colleagues - to get behind the causes that are meaningful to them. We look forward to seeing our Cardmembers get engaged in Members Project and determine which projects receive the $2.5 million in funding."

Members Project 2008: Get Involved

From July 22 through August 19, Cardmembers will be able to submit their own ideas for projects to make a positive impact in the world and discuss, nominate and decide upon their favorite projects. Whether a Cardmember or not, everyone is invited to participate by commenting on and nominating their favorite projects online. Cardmembers can select one of the following categories that best fits their project submission: Arts & Culture, Community Development, Education, Environment & Wildlife and Health. Cardmembers can use photos, audio and video to enhance project submissions on the site and anyone can go online and share feedback and insights about specific projects for project submitters to consider. This type of collaboration is greatly encouraged as submissions can be revised throughout the first four weeks of the program. In addition, there are new and easy tools to promote projects and spread the word, including online badges, widgets and banners to be posted on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Once the submission phase closes on August 19, American Express will work with an Advisory Panel of experts to review the projects and announce the Top 25 submissions on September 9. It's up to Cardmembers to ultimately choose which projects American Express will fund. Cardmembers can make a collective difference by casting their vote, showing their support for their favorite projects, and narrowing down to the Top Five projects starting September 30. The winning projects will be those with the most Cardmember votes, announced October 14.

Because there was so much passion for the final projects last year, this year, American Express will award multiple projects with a total of $2.5 million in funding. The top project will receive $1.5 million, the second place project will receive $500,000, the third place project will receive $300,000 and two additional projects in the Top Five will receive $100,000 in funding.

New Survey Shows Americans' Desire to "Do Good"

A recent American Express survey uncovered current trends about Americans' views on the power of ideas and their desire to give back, including:

-- 92 percent of Americans say that they believe in the power of ideas to help change the world.

-- 87 percent of 18- to 39-year-olds and 71 percent of people 55+ believe that one person can help change the world.

-- Men tend to be more likely to focus on ideas that broadly impact the country, and women are slightly more interested in ideas that impact their communities.

-- Almost three-quarters of Americans say they would dedicate their lives to making a positive difference if they could.

-- Four out of five Americans have done something in the past year to help make an impact, including donating household articles (57 percent), giving money (56 percent) and volunteering (49 percent).

The survey uncovered that health, education and the environment/wildlife are some of the most important issues to Americans; these, along with arts and culture and community development, make up the five project categories for this year's program. Last year through Members Project, American Express(R) Cardmembers chose to bring safe drinking water to millions in Africa. This year, it's up to Cardmembers to once again make their voices heard as to which projects will be funded.

Experts on Making a Difference

The Members Project Advisory Panel, a roster of thought leaders and experts in arts, community, education, the environment and health, will participate in vetting the project submissions and narrowing down the field to the Top 25 submissions. The panel is looking for projects that are innovative and achievable with a broad, positive impact, and Cardmembers will ultimately vote on the winning projects.

The Members Project 2008 Advisory Panel includes:

-- Geoffrey Canada - President & Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children's Zone

-- Mike Feinberg - Superintendent & Co-Founder of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Foundation

-- Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE - Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

-- Dr. Sanjay Gupta - Neurosurgeon & CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

-- Judith Jamison - Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

-- Craig Kielburger - Founder & Chair, Free The Children

-- Vanessa Kirsch - President & Founder of New Profit Inc.

-- Dr. Michael L. Lomax - President & CEO, UNCF - the United Negro College Fund

-- Dr. Wangari Maathai - 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate & Founder - Greenbelt Movement

-- Gail Sheehy - Author & Journalist

-- Edward Skloot - Director, Center for Strategic Philanthropy & Civil Society, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University

-- Jeanette Takamura, M.S.W., Ph.D. - Dean & Professor of Social Work, Columbia University

Members Project 2007 Updates

In 2007, after 8,000 project submissions and three rounds of voting, thousands of American Express Cardmembers from across the country chose "Children's Safe Drinking Water" as the winning project, and American Express provided $2 million in funding to UNICEF to bring the project to life. With funding from American Express, UNICEF has been working to promote and provide education about household water treatment and safe storage options in countries including Angola, Guinea, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

At the conclusion of the project, Members Project funding will help to significantly reduce waterborne diseases by promoting household water treatment, safe storage and a healthy environment, and will additionally provide safe water to more than 3.5 million people for at least two years.

For more information or to submit, discuss and vote on projects, visit

American Express and Good Citizenship

Giving back is a core value and being a "good citizen" is a hallmark of American Express. Often credited as the first company to launch a cause-related marketing campaign via a program benefiting the Statue of Liberty in 1983, American Express has continued to roll out successful initiatives around the world that enhance communities and bring support to important causes.

More and more people are seeking ways to give back, align with important social issues and do business with companies that are making a positive impact. Members Project from American Express is a key way to bring to life the value of Membership for Cardmembers, empowering them to unite to make a positive impact in a meaningful way.

American Express Company is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850. For more information, visit

*About the Survey

International Communications Research (ICR) partnered with a web survey panel firm, Authentic Response. Sample was nationally representative of adults age 18+, balanced based on age, gender, income, gender and geography. 1,000 online interviews were obtained between May 8 and 17th, 2008, consisting of 468 males (46.8%) and 532 females (53.2%). The survey consisted of 20 closed-ended questions, and two Other/specify types. Because this is a sample, and not an actual population, an associated margin of error applies. At a 95% level of confidence, the margin of error for 1,000 completes is 3.1%. This essentially means that we can be 95% certain that for any percentage result for the total sample, the "true" percentage is within +/-3.1 percentage points of that obtained via the survey. Within the data tabulations, significant differences are reported at the 95% level of confidence.


Shari Forman, 212-373-6151
American Express
Leslie Berland, 212-640-5142

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