March 16, 2009 Groucho Marx famously said he wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have him as a member. That means he probably wouldn’t have been rushing to join Affluence.org, even though he’s one of the select few with would’ve had enough cash to meet the entry requirements. Described as, “Facebook for the filthy rich”, by its founder, Scott Mitchell, Affluence.org requires members to have a verified net worth of at least USD$3 million or an annual household income of USD$300,000.
Essentially the internet age’s equivalent of the private gentleman’s club, the site, which was launched in September 2008, boasts 20,000 members and accepts about 400 to 500 new members daily says Mitchell. Once accepted members can enjoy similar addictive time-wasting social networking activities to those found on Facebook, but without having to go slumming and mix with the riff raff. Affluence.org has personality profiles, blogs, a lifestyle guide, forums, links to articles and polls and also includes philanthropic information for those feeling generous.
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While the site is free to join, members must undergo vetting before granted access. Hopeful members must submit their name, birth date, gender, marital status, household income and household net worth and Affluence.org then checks that information through multiple online data sources. If any red flags go up, applicants are asked to provide more information or get rejected. But don’t worry, if you don't meet the site’s membership requirements, you can still join, provided you can convince at least five wealthy folks to vouch for you. With such an elite and well-heeled member demographic it’s not surprising the site is supported by advertising from companies such as a private jet rental company, a designer watch retailer and luxury travel agency.
Mitchell says only one in 40 who apply is accepted, and once in, members are screened regularly to verify they haven't fallen below the site's requirements, so it will be interesting to see if there’s a mass culling of members as the Global Financial Crisis takes hold. And although I probably wouldn’t be champing at the bit to join, I’d definitely like to say this was a club that I meet the membership requirements for. Maybe one day. Until then I’ll just have to resign myself to poking my fellow peasants.