If credit card companies and financial institutions offered an integrated financial/social measurement system, it would be a far more useful way to understand our overall worth. Think of a monthly bank or credit card statement which also lists charity donations and volunteer hours — placing financial credit and debt squarely alongside social credit and debt.
It would send a message that what we give back can be just as important as what we take in, borrow, or spend.
In fact a tough economy is the perfect environment in which to begin equal emphasis on financial and social capital.
Let’s say you could earn frequent flyer-style points (we’ll call them “frequent giving points”) for each hour you volunteer at a local food bank or each $1 you contribute to the Red Cross to support the flood relief efforts in Pakistan. If those accumulated points could be used to purchase real goods or services, and/or given as a follow on donation to a charity, wouldn’t that make a lot of financial and social sense in a time of great individual and global need?
Instead of getting credit card offers for a 0% APR and a free airline flight, we would receive a “Social Credit Card” offer including 0% APR and 200 social points. Those points would be available for a donation to the charity of your choice. They could also be traded for the purchase of everyday items, but significant purchases would require additional volunteer hours and/or charity donations.
It’s a win-win for both the individual and society as a whole.
A social credit approach would inject badly needed money into social services as more people are incentivized to give back. In fact a whole new giving market involving the trading of social credits might even emerge?