"Having the opportunity to do marketing and do good at the same time is a great feeling," says Belinda Lang, VP-consumer marketing strategy, who oversees Members Project From American Express.
The online initiative solicits AmEx card members to submit and vote on ideas for humanitarian projects.
In 2008, more than 400,000 people registered to participate in Members Project, AmEx says, and 1,190 projects were submitted. The program attracted 1.8 million unique visitors to membersproject.com, up 20% from 2007, its first year. New tools were available for participants, including online badges, widgets and banners that could be posted on Facebook and MySpace. The initiative is "clearly tapping into something very important to members," says Ms. Lang, 55.
Members Project this year awarded five proposals a total of $2.5 million. And even projects that didn't make it to the end are winners, she says, "because so many more people are now aware of the issues they're fighting for."