Slated to begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, The Rolling Jubilee telethon has already raised nearly four times its stated goal of $50,000.
For every $1 raised during the telethon, the group can buy $32 of distressed debt from lenders.
The group's stated goal is to raise $50,000 to buy (and eliminate) $1 million worth of debt.
Aaron Smith, one of the organizers, told The Village Voice that he was surprised the project has been as successful as it has, drawing media coverage from The New York Times and other publications, and praise from everyone from religious groups to Forbes magazine.
The goal of the initiative—an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement— is to challenge the status quo of debt collection by purchasing distressed debts and then, rather than collecting on it, wiping the slate clean.
According to the website, the effort is "a bailout of the people by the people."
The site continues:
Rolling Jubilee is a strike debt project that buys debt for pennies on t he dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it. Together we can liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal debt resistance is just the beginning. Join us as we imagine and create a new world based on the common good, not Wall Street profits.
"It's a truly inspired project," Ed Needham, who has acted as a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street, told The Guardian. "It's a fantastic way to both alleviate some debt but even more so to show the whole system of debt and how financial institutions have insinuated themselves in our lives to such an extent over the last 20 or 30 years that the American dream now is basically getting out of debt."