American Express has recently launched The Members Project, where it will contribute $1 for every AMEX cardholder who registers for the project by August 5, 2007 – up to a total of $5 million. Registration is free, and as best as I can tell, there are no costs for participants.

If you’re wondering what American Express plans to do with that $5 million, it’s too soon to tell, except that the goal is to let cardholders choose how to spend it on “something good for our world.” Of course, the free publicity American Express is getting for The Members Project is “priceless,” as MasterCard would say, but anything that will get more money out there to help people in need is a real plus in my book. So if you’ve already got an AMEX card or are thinking of getting one, won’t it be fun to put all thoughts of credit card issuers fees and unconscionable profits out of your mind for a bit and help spend this $5 million?!

Right now, folks who have signed up for The Members Project are coming up with ideas on how the money should be used, rating each other’s suggestions, and participating in online discussions. Projects being discussed so far fall into categories like arts and entertainment, community development, the environment and wildlife, education, health and fitness, etc. Members are encouraged to submit up to five proposed projects until the June 17, 2007 deadline.

After that, AMEX’s advisory committee will choose the top 50 projects, based on “innovation, achievability, and the ability to make a broad, positive impact.” Then, starting on July 3, 2007, members get to vote via elimination rounds on which project will get the money. First, it’ll go from the top 50 to the top 25 … then to the top 5 … and then to the one grand prize winner, which will be announced on August 7, 2007. Members can vote once in each round. (It’s hard not to wonder if we’d be better off holding our Presidential elections this way!)

Click here for the fine print, which basically says that you have to be a legal US resident, at least 18, and “the holder in good standing of an American Express Card.” Got one? Join The Members Project today, and let us and others know about any great ideas you see there that will make the world a better place.