American Express and TakePart® Announce 2010 Members Project® Empowering Everyone to Take Small Steps to Make a Big Difference

March 8, 2010

Public Company Information:


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--American Express and TakePart are proud to announce the return of Members Project, an innovative online initiative that provides those with a passion for philanthropy and interest in giving back an opportunity to take small steps to make a big difference. American Express has joined forces with TakePart, a content-driven social action network created by Participant Media, a company using entertaining films like Oscar®-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth and 2010 Oscar nominee Food, Inc. to drive citizen engagement and social action. This announcement kicks off a multi-year relationship designed to help people make a difference in the lives of others through Members Project at This program encourages everyone, whether an American Express® Cardmember or not, to do their part by providing numerous ways to get involved, including sharing their passion for worthy causes. Whether it’s volunteering for a local organization, making a donation or voting for a charity to receive additional funding from American Express, Members Project will provide the tools and resources to support the diverse causes people care about most and help empower everyone to be successful at making a difference.

Building on the success of Members Project 2007 and 2008, this year’s initiative empowers everyone to do their part by providing numerous ways to get involved. Through Members Project at, people can explore today’s issues and decide for themselves where and how they’d like to take action. Everyone is invited to register online and vote to help decide which charities will receive funding from American Express, or volunteer their time to a worthy cause and get rewarded through Membership Rewards® Bonus Points certificates. Whether getting involved means donating an hour of time at a homeless shelter, cleaning up a park one afternoon, or donating $5 or Membership Rewards points to a charity you feel passionate about, any step, big or small, is critical to making a positive impact in the world. Participants are encouraged to rally their networks and recruit support for their favorite charity using an assortment of Members Project sharing tools, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

“Our ongoing partnership with TakePart demonstrates both the evolution of Members Project into a continuous program and our enduring leadership in cause marketing. We are unleashing a multitude of ways for everyone to help change the world one step at a time,” says Nancy Smith, Vice President, Global Media, Content and Community, American Express. “American Express and TakePart have a vision and are deeply committed to empowering people to successfully do something bigger.”

Through TakePart’s engagement platform, Members Project helps millions of people across the country to drive positive change on issues they care about. The tools offered by TakePart to support ongoing advocacy efforts around diverse issues include social networking applications, viral videos and mobile outreach.

“The partnership with American Express is extraordinarily exciting for TakePart,” said Christopher Gebhardt, General Manager of TakePart. “We believe that media can be an invitation to engage in making the world a better place. Partnering with American Express, TakePart will help inform, inspire, and activate users with tools to really make a difference.”

Successful advocacy campaigns in which Participant Media played a role include a one-million person online petition effort around 2010 Oscar nominee The Cove, which helped convince the Japanese government to institute a temporary ban on bottle-nosed dolphin hunting. It is this record of success, innovative use of technology for advocacy to drive positive change and commitment to producing inspirational content that brought this partnership together and differentiates it from other corporate philanthropic efforts.

Vote for a Favorite Cause to Receive Funding

After registering for Members Project at, participants can vote once a week for a charity they think deserves financial support. Every three months, five charities will be chosen to each receive $200,000 in funding from American Express. There are dozens of worthy causes and the list of charities changes each voting cycle. Charities are chosen to cover cause-related interests across a diverse group of categories which include Arts & Culture, Community Development, Environment & Wildlife, Education and Health & Wellness.

Support a Worthy Cause through Donations

Cardmembers have the option to choose from over a million charities and show their support by making a donation. Members Project makes it easy for people to search for a cause to help and provides the option to make a one-time donation using an American Express Card, donate Membership Rewards points, or set up recurring donations to spread giving throughout the year.

Find the Perfect Match to Volunteer and Be Rewarded

Members Project can help people find the right volunteer opportunity for both their heart and their schedule through Volunteer Match. The program is designed to match volunteers with opportunities that meet their interests and availability and reward them for their time. Visitors can sign up to participate in select volunteer opportunities and track their hours on the Members Project site. Volunteers that support the charities listed on the Volunteer Match database can receive or donate 500 Membership Rewards bonus points for every logged hour of volunteer service they perform, up to a maximum 10,000 Membership Rewards bonus points or 20 hours of volunteer service. Anyone that does not have an American Express Card participating in the Membership Rewards program can donate the Membership Rewards bonus points to a charity through

Recruit Support and Spread the Word

Members Project has tools available to help participants promote their favorite charities and tell their friends about all the steps they are taking to make a difference. Through creative banners, tell-a-friend e-mails and interactive widgets, Members Project makes it easy to help spread the word and rally people to get onboard. Participants are encouraged to become a fan of Members Project on Facebook at Everyone is invited to join the conversation and share their Members Project experiences using the Twitter tag #AmexMP, as well as view video content at


American Express premiered two television spots during the 82nd Academy Awards broadcast on March 7th on ABC to help kick off Members Project and inspire people across the country to do their part to make a positive impact. American Express has engaged two dynamic philanthropists – Cardmember Geoffrey Canada, a social activist, educator and president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and Merchant Member Yvon Chouinard, an environmentalist, outdoor industry entrepreneur and founder/owner of Patagonia -- to nationally televise their inspirational stories of the continuous steps one takes to protect and nurture what they love. For Geoffrey Canada, this love is revitalization of the Harlem community to better the lives of neighborhood children and for Yvon Chouinard, his love is preserving the environment. Canada and Chouinard will also be featured online, with extended, inspiring stories in digital video content on and other select sites.


Giving back is a core value at American Express and being a “good citizen” is a hallmark of the brand. In 1954, the company established the American Express Foundation as a formal vehicle for grant making, several years before the first American Express Card was issued. American Express is often credited as being the first company to launch a cause-related marketing campaign through a program benefitting the Statue of Liberty in 1983. For decades, American Express’ cause-marketing campaigns and philanthropic work has supported thousands of causes that are important to its Cardmembers, its merchant partners and the general public.

In 2007, American Express launched the first ever Members Project where Cardmembers submitted many amazing projects, voted for their favorite, and ultimately supported one Cardmember's project to receive $2 million in funding to provide clean drinking water to children across the developing world. The funding has allowed UNICEF to provide clean drinking water in four African countries. In its second year, 2008, awareness and early detection of Alzheimer’s disease won the support of Members Project participants, and $1.5 million in funding from American Express. The funding allowed the Alzheimer’s Association to support a national campaign aimed at changing attitudes and perceptions regarding early detection.

In addition to actions taken by the company, American Express Cardmembers are committed to making a difference in their communities and have collectively provided significant assistance in times of need. In the wake of the recent devastation in Haiti, American Express Cardmembers have contributed nearly $100 million and over 87 million Membership Rewards points.

American Express is strongly committed to making a difference in the communities where we live and work, and is doing their part to make it easier for everyone to get involved. By bringing opportunities like the Members Project to people everywhere, together we can make a big difference.

About American Express

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

About TakePart

TakePart is a content-driven social action network of people, non-profit organizations, and businesses that are working together to drive positive change on big issues like clean water, education reform, nuclear non-proliferation, and environmental protection. TakePart is driven by the idea that a good story well told can inspire people to take small steps that drive big changes. TakePart is another step in the evolution of its parent company, Participant Media, whose mission is to present entertainment that inspires and compels social change.

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Cardmember Geoffrey Canada, a social activist, educator and president/CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, and Merchant Member Yvon Chouinard, an environmentalist, outdoor industry entrepreneur and founder/owner of Patagonia share their inspirational stories of the continuous steps one takes to protect and nurture what they love. (Video: Business Wire)

About American Express

American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at, and connect with us on,,,, and

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