Today, American Express is launching a six-month competition that’s like a monthly Kickstarter for funding passion project ideas. Anyone can submit an idea for a project by answering two questions: “What is your passion project?” and “Why is it important to you?” (In a Twitter-friendly 140 characters each, of course.) Each month from now through December, AmEx will choose 10 winners who will each receive $2,000 in gift cards to spend.
The AmEx prizes act more like the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grants than Kickstarter pledges, in that winners are not required to use the money for any specific purpose–they can pretty much do what they please with it.
The competition is part of a larger #PassionProject social media initiative AmEx is spearheading whose other components include a YouTube video series highlighting passion project enthusiasts such as charity: water CEO Scott Harrison and local-food champion Rebecca Lando. A monthly magazine-style Tumblr will push AmEx products and services.
Elizabeth Crosta, AmEx’s director of public affairs, says the initial idea for #PassionProject stemmed from a recent survey the company commissioned of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, in which 69% of participants ranked “having time to pursue passions” as one of the top contributors to personal success, far ahead of the 33% who identified “having a lot of money” as a key factor.