Author: Paul Lamb
What NEED does this meet?
The need to expand and extend volunteerism and social knowledge more broadly, in a way that is simple and leverages existing systems and processes.
What is the APPROACH?
Everybody already understands the concept of a credit card.
socialcreditcard.org puts the concept to work in a social context. It is a Web portal that offers companies, organizations, and individuals the opportunity to sign up their employees for a social credit card account. Each employee can open an account and create a simple profile, which links to local, regional, and global volunteer opportunities â?? both real and virtual projects. The site offers a simple search and direct donation tool for locating and contributing to local, national, or global social service organizations.
There are two ways in which employees can â??earnâ?? social credit on socialcreditcard.org:
As employees sign up for and participate in various social activities, donating their time or expertise, their hourly contributions are tracked. Each hour of time donated is recorded as a social credit.
Second, each financial donation to a particular nonprofit or charity is also tracked and recorded as a certain amount of social credit.
Participants can also â??borrowâ?? credit by receiving donated time or expertise from others in the socialcrecitcard.org pool. At the end of each month each socialcreditcard.org participant receives their social credit card statement (along with their paycheck) that reveals how much social credit they have accrued or what they â??oweâ??. Participating companies and organizations and companies also receive a monthly statement that tells them how much total credit their employees have accrued – something they can use to measure and publicize the social contributions of their employees.
Companies and organizations participating on socialcreditcard.org can offer specific benefits to their employees as they accrue social credit. For example, employees can exchange their social credits for vacation time, cash bonuses, or awards.
socialcreditcard.org will also issue account numbers and plastic social credit cards that allow individuals to exchange their social credits for financial credits. This means that individuals can purchase items or receive a discount using their account number or social credit card, through participating vendors. Having a physical card in their purse/wallet is also a handy way to remind people of, and allow them to feel good about, their social commintments.
What are the BENEFITS to people?
The overall benefit of socialcreditcard.org is to dramatically increase greater volunteerism, sharing of knowledge, giving, and community involvement.It makes this easier because…
1) People can contribute time or money to social causes through a simple “one stop shopping” portal, that is promoted at their workplace. 2) companies and organizations have an easy way to encourage and trumpet the social contributions of their employees, and 3) people have REAL incentives to participate. It doesn’t just rely on goodwill alone!
What is the COMPETITION?
Their are a few organizations like http://www.timebank.org.uk/index.php that provide volunteer clearinghouses or organize corporate giving programs (http://national.unitedway.org/)but they do not offer an easy online tool for tracking and promoting socially responsible behavior or social credit on and individual or companywide basis. they also don’t offer companies a way to incentivize sociall responsible behavior, and an opportunity to quantify that behavior in a way that can assist their own in-house PR efforts.
Finally, individuals get the idea of having a credit card, and this would be an easy and logical way to promote giving that builds off of the credit card experience. The idea must win out because its simple and could do wonders for leveraging social capital!
What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?
The portal itself should be fairly easy to setup and maintain. socialcreditcard.org can easily partner with existing organizations like volunteermatch.org or onebrick.org to access volunteer opportunities. Donations can be handled easily and for free through guidestar.org. Generating account statements will require a databse. But the good news is that once the site is built, charging a small annual fee to participating organizations for the service, can make it fully self sustainable.
Not sure what the upfront costs would be? Help!!!
This seems like an idea that might be easier to implement on a local level, especially in the realm of community and business buy-in. The basic idea seems a lot like the system in place in Ithaca NY. See http://www.ithacahours.com
Please see my general comments about community currency systems at:
EntroPay provides the UK’s leading prepaid virtual VISA card that can be used for easier and safer purchases online. EntroPay was developed to allow Internet shoppers the ability to purchase goods and services with a ‘virtual’ prepaid visa card safe in the knowledge that their own actual personal plastic credit card details remain hidden and secure
All these intiatives are fine but Transfinancial Economics goes beyond beyond LETS, and their kind.
For a brand new blogger this is a great article and site. Thanks!