As hurricane needs swell, some suggest steering clear of Red Cross. Why? (Source usatoday.com)
The American Red Cross, a 136-year-old institution that is usually among the first to swoop in and set up shelters, health clinics and mobile kitchens in times of need, is one of the big and traditional beneficiaries of donations when disasters happen.
Since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the Red Cross has collected $211 million. Recent criticisms of the organization on Twitter and Facebook — sentiments that can be summed up as “donate elsewhere” — recently led American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern to issue a video statement insisting it does, with 91 cents of every dollar going to Hurricane Harvey relief. “Americans work hard for their money,” she said. “That’s why we’re committed to being the very best stewards of our donor’s dollars. We keep our expenses low.” Her defense of the organization comes as the recent hurricanes have resurfaced stinging critiques. A congressional report and several media investigations have found fault with the Red Cross’ management and performance, suggesting the organization spends as much as 25% of donations on administrative, promotional and overhead costs. A study released last summer by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, claimed the Red Cross had spent $124 million — or a quarter of the money donors gave after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti — on internal expenses. Since 2014, National Public Radio and ProPublica have teamed up for investigations into Red Cross spending. Those reports argue that the agency, whose main role is as a blood broker, spends just a small fraction of its money on its high-publicity disaster relief programs and has made “dubious claims of success.” The outlets’ reports specifically slammed the agency’s response to Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac in 2012. And last year, the Red Cross came under more fire from the outlets, which reported that its response to flooding in Louisiana had drawn significant complaints from relief organizers who often were left without promised assistance.