Thank you to everyone who voted for DonorsChoose.org in the American Express Members Project! Since the week that the Members Project ended, we have been asking American Express to help us find a way to provide DonorsChoose.org gift certificates to all our voters and supporters. Unfortunately, American Express has notified us that they cannot help us distribute DonorsChoose.org gift certificates to Members Project voters due to privacy issues. We are extremely disappointed because we wanted our voters to be able to select the specific classroom projects to be funded with any award proceeds. However, we’re committed to providing a DonorsChoose.org gift certificate to any American Express voter who contacts DonorsChoose.org to request one, since that’s the only way we know how to reach you! To receive your DonorChoose.org gift certificate, please email giftcertificates (at) donorschoose (dot) org and put “American Express voter” in the subject line. We will issue gift certificates until we have distributed all $100K of the American Express funds or until January 1, whichever comes first. In either scenario, the full $100K American Express award will be used to fund classroom projects which will help thousands of teachers and students in low-income classrooms.
For those interested in the legal issues, here is the response we received from American Express’ legal/privacy counsel in response to our request:
“American Express collected email addresses in The Members Project in order to contact Cardmembers during the duration of the promotion but explicitly stated that those ‘E-mail address(es) … will not be used, sold, or otherwise distributed beyond the explicit purposes of The Members Project.’ We have discussed this issue with the attorney in the General Counsel’s Office of American Express in charge of privacy policies for Cardmembers. Now that The Members Project is complete, the contract regarding use of email addresses gathered during the duration of The Members Project, which was explicitly and unambiguously conveyed to Cardmembers during the duration of promotion, will not allow (1) American Express to share those email addresses with DonorsChoose.org nor (2) American Express to send out emails to Cardmembers regarding DonorsChoose.org or any other project.”