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The Red Cross collected $255 million for Haiti relief effort but only sent $80 million!

March 5, 2010

by Ester Goldberg

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After the earthquake in Haiti, the American Red Cross became the go-to nonprofit for donating to the Haitian relief effort, since they could be trusted to properly handle your money. Or so we thought.

Now it turns out that of the $255 MILLION the Red Cross collected for the relief effort, only $80 MILLION of it actually made its way to Haiti. That leaves $175 MILLION of YOUR donations unaccounted for.

The obvious question is: Where did it go?

Well, according to the website for the Red Cross, quote, “On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of OTHER disasters.

“Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters.”

This photo from the top of the American Red Cross homepage is apparently supposed to convey that the Red Cross cares about Haitians. If they really care, why did a huge proportion of the 300,000 dead die from preventable causes? Preventable deaths are still happening daily, especially among small children and old folks, and if no shelter is provided, the death toll will skyrocket during the rainy season, which is just beginning. Doesn’t the Red Cross provide tents to other disaster survivors? That $175 million the Red Cross thinks Haiti doesn’t need would provide a lot of tents – plus food, water and medical care, all of it desperately needed. Thousands of Haitians have still received no aid at all since the Jan. 12 earthquake. - Photo: www.redcross.org
In other words, the Red Cross decided Haiti only needed $80 MILLION. So any money they receive over that amount is being used to pad their general fund. Which isn’t such a bad thing. But it’s not the first time they’ve done this:

1) In 1989, the Red Cross raised $50 MILLION for the victims of the San Francisco earthquake. But it’s estimated that only $10 MILLION of it was turned over to the actual victims.

2) After September 11th, the Red Cross raised $543 MILLION for the family members of people who died in the attacks. But they held back more than HALF of that money, which eventually led to the dismissal of their president.

3) In 2004, the Red Cross raised $3.21 BILLION to aid the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. But they’re still holding onto $500 MILLION of it.

4) And in 2005, the Red Cross raised $1.1 BILLION to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. But they kept $200 MILLION of it to, quote, “prepare for future disasters.”

(The Red Cross is a great organization, and the money they raise will eventually be used to help someone in crisis . . . at least we hope. But they’re not nearly as forthcoming as you would hope or expect, considering it’s YOUR donations that keep them in business.)

(And it’s worth mentioning that the Red Cross got $100 MILLION in bailout funds, and that PRESIDENT OBAMA capped the salaries of Red Cross execs at $500,000 a year. Because they’d been earning almost $1 MILLION a year.)

Visit EsterGoldberg.typepad.com, where this story first appeared. Instead of donating to help Haiti through the Red Cross, donate to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, an organization you can trust to help the people most in need. Go online to HaitiAction.net or make your check payable to HERF/EBSC and mail it to EBSC, 2362 Bancroft Way, Berkeley CA 94704. It’s tax deductible.

32 thoughts on “The Red Cross collected $255 million for Haiti relief effort but only sent $80 million!

  1. Wash

    This article is not correct concerning Red Cross salaries. The CEO made $565,000 in salary last year. This is a large sum, but not "$1 million". This error calls into question your other assertions about the Red Cross. Get your facts straight!

    Reply
    1. ysp

      for most of the people in this world, there is little difference between $565,000 and $1,000,000 because both are amounts that they will never comprehend or experience, you friggin' elitist. the fact that you have to point this out, whether or not it is correct, in the context of those who work for an organization that is supposed to assist those who are lucky to have 1 meal a day, is beyond disgusting.

      Reply
      1. Last Sane Man

        OMG, he's so elitist because he gets his facts straight!

        Next thing you'll tell me is that the sky is very red when you compare it to the darkness of outer space!

        He's not justifying their exorbitant salaries, he's straightening out an error, you nitwit.

        Reply
    2. TheUSA

      Correct! Please add in the many other benefits that go with that sum of money. It comes to well over one million dollars.

      Reply
  2. Wendy Harman

    This is Wendy Harman from the American Red Cross. Thanks for the opportunity to respond in comments. We appreciate your support and want to clear up a number of facts that aren’t accurate in your post.

    We’d love to work with you in the future to provide answers to any questions you might have or to verify your information before publishing – just send me an email HarmanW@usa.redcross.org. If you reach out to ask us I think you’ll find we’re very forthcoming.

    You can also access up to date information at:
    http://www.redcross.org/haiti

    or

    http://newsroom.redcross.org

    Every bit of money that has been given to Haiti will be spent on recovery efforts in Haiti. So far, that total is $333 million. We have so far spent or allocated $82 million of that $333 million.

    Again, all of the $333 million will go towards Haiti relief.

    Funds are directed according to the priorities of the relief operation. Our immediate priority has been to use the funds to provide supplies—items like tarps, rope and tools—for temporary shelters and food and water in Haiti.

    Looking ahead, we know families affected by the earthquake will need Red Cross help for months and years to come, and as we finalize specific relief programs, we will allocate specific funds to each element of our plan. I’d love to stay in touch with you as this plan unfolds.

    As always, the Red Cross will publicly report the details on how we use all donations to our relief programs in Haiti.

    Reply
    1. ysp

      after reading what i've read about the red cross, I WILL NEVER DONATE TO THEM AGAIN. how can this organization sit on so much money when there is such immediate life-threatening needs? it makes absolutely no sense. why should i give money to an organization that makes no sense?

      Reply
  3. Wendy Harman

    As for our President and CEO’s salary, it is set by our Board of Directors and not the President of the United States. Our current President and CEO Gail McGovern donated a significant portion of her salary back to the Red Cross last year.

    Reply
  4. Nah

    Hahaha @ These Red Cross apologists.

    The Red Cross stole money from Katrina and 9/11 victims. They’re a criminal organization, and that’s why I never donate to them.

    Reply
  5. Wendy Harman

    This is Wendy Harman from the American Red Cross. Thanks for the opportunity to respond in comments. We appreciate your support and want to clear up a number of facts that aren’t accurate in your post.

    We’d love to work with you in the future to provide answers to any questions you might have or to verify your information before publishing – just send me an email. If you reach out to ask us I think you’ll find we’re very forthcoming.

    You can also access up to date information at:
    http://www.redcross.org/haiti

    Every bit of money that has been given to Haiti will be spent on recovery efforts in Haiti. So far, that total is $333 million. We have so far spent or allocated $82 million of that $333 million.

    Again, all of the $333 million will go towards Haiti relief.

    Funds are directed according to the priorities of the relief operation. Our immediate priority has been to use the funds to provide supplies—items like tarps, rope and tools—for temporary shelters and food and water in Haiti.

    Looking ahead, we know families affected by the earthquake will need Red Cross help for months and years to come, and as we finalize specific relief programs, we will allocate specific funds to each element of our plan. I’d love to stay in touch with you as this plan unfolds.

    As always, the Red Cross will publicly report the details on how we use all donations to our relief programs in Haiti.

    Reply
  6. Beverly Stone

    Miss. Goldberg,

    Is there not some sort of truth in journalism that you’re accountable for? If so, why would you write an artcle with so many presumptions? Slandering an amazing organization such as the Red Cross does not make you a great journalist. In fact, this article makes you a laughing stock with all of the incorrect statements and the assumptions you make.

    Please talk to Wendy and get your facts straight. The Red Cross has only committed $80 million to date because there are major long term recovery operations that will need funding; or haven’t you actually read about the complete devestation? Are you aware the Red Cross provides funding to other organzations recovery efforts also? One way or another, if money is dedicated to Haiti, it will go to Haiti. Can you imagine the irresponsible leadership that would spend $333 million in two months when recovery will take years?

    Congratulations, by the way, on quoting ONE sentence from the entire Red Cross web site that supports your false argument. Do you do the same from newspapers, magazines, books, movies, and the Bible to create your own reality?

    Reply
  7. Lena

    @LoveLife.. The point is I donated money to specifically go to a certain place it should be going there.I personally believe that Haiti will need that entire 300-500 mil to rebuild.Just like I know New Orleans and 9/11 vics needed every cent of that money.The problem is misappropiation of funds in many of these situations.The misappropiation problem starts with the charities and all the different hands the money passes through before it actually gets to the people who actually need it.Not to mention the common folk who scheme and apply for and get access to monies they are not entitled to.

    Reply
  8. Enigma Love

    I Believe The Red Cross Is A Good Organization, That Helps People All Over The World…However, I Have A Problem With Some Of The Decisions Made By The People Who Run The Company…I Think That If You Raise Money For The Haiti Fund, Then It Should Soley Be Spent On Haiti ONLY…The Red Cross Is As Well Known As The Catholic Church, And People Give To The Red Cross Even When There Is No Disaster…Haiti Is Arguably The Poorest Country In The World, And To Take Money That Was Specifically Sent For Haiti And Use It In Other Disasters Is Wrong. Just Make A Relief Fund For That Particular Disaster, And Use The Funds To Help Out In That Particular Disaster…The Red Cross Is A Gold Mine…Truthfully, I Believe That The Red Cross Has More Money Than They Report, (The Truth About Any Non-Profit Organization) Because It Is A Company Ran By Man. There Will Always Be Lies, And Greed On A Large Scale Donation Organization Such As The Red Cross Because Of It…Out Of The 333 Million Dollars Donated, Who Decided That 80 Million Was A Sufficient Amount For Haiti To Receieve For The Time Being?

    Reply
  9. Wendy Harman

    Once again, all of the money donated to Haiti will be spent in Haiti.

    We have not and will not spend any of the donated money for Haiti on anything other than Haiti relief.

    Reply
  10. Patrick Pierre

    I donated my hard earn money to The Red Cross Haiti Relief. Can The Red Cross provide any proof that all the money will go into Haiti Relief?

    Reply
  11. Patrick Pierre

    Why are the Top executive at Red Cross earning so much? I have no doubt that our hard earn money is being use to pay these people top dollars. They are criminals

    Reply
  12. Carielen

    I worked for an environmental "non-profit organization" it was the worst disappointment of my life!!! The unfortunate truth is that the bigger the organization, the bigger the scam!!! People send their "hard earned cash" to help but, all the money unaccounted for is used to cover the "overhead" (that's what they call it – I call it misappropiation). The sad result of this, is that it discourages people interested in making a difference from donating.

    Hey Wendy Harman how much are they paying you to spin your story of how honest The Red Cross is? I wonder how much of their "overhead" goes into public relations & whitewashing !!!

    Making a difference is empowering – & I salute all the compassionate people who opened up their hearts & wallets. Next time you are thinking about donating money check out:

    http://charityguide.org/volunteer/charityratings….

    There are organizations worth supporting!!!

    Reply
  13. mary Post author

    LoveLifeLightLaughter posted two comments and then, on March 13, 2010, asked that they be deleted. I’ve done that but, because others commented about them, I’m re-entering them here:

    First comment:

    LoveLifeLightLaughter, on March 5th, 2010 at 4:03 pm Said:

    Folks will get very upset about this, but it’s because they don’t understand how agencies like Red Cross operate.

    They have operations all over the world, and have limited ability to channel all of those funds into one zone (as huge as they are, they’re stretched pretty thin) and the logistics of putting all $225 million to use in one place would require that they PULL people and equipment off of other relief efforts around the world to focus only on Haiti.

    So as upsetting as it may sound that they’re putting “only” $80 million into the relief efforts, it’s due to a logistical logjam, not because the rest of the money won’t eventually be spent there (generally speaking, if it was donated specifically TO Haitian relief, it will eventually be used for that purpose; if other disasters occur in the meantime, it goes into the general fund and will cover costs of those relief efforts in the meantime, but over time, all of the money will get to the intended target).

    All is not what it seems on the surface… sometimes we have to dig deeper to understand the reasons for why things happen the way they do.

    Second comment:

    LoveLifeLightLaughter, on March 13th, 2010 at 2:49 pm Said:

    Will someone at sfbayview be kind enough to delete this and my previous comment so I’m not included in emails from this thread? I get a little tired of the “the Red Cross is a criminal organization” bullshit, and would just as soon not have to listen to that moronic brain-pap.

    [Reposted by Mary Ratcliff, editor, SF Bay View]

    Reply
  14. Andrew J

    Hmmm i see the American Red Cross rated as an A-. Hmmm maybe someone should write objectively and maybe do some research… like i don’t know… a real reporter would do.

    Reply
  15. Wendy Harman

    For updates on Haiti, you can always reach me or check out http://www.redcross.org/haiti. If you have additional questions after checking out the below, I’ll find the answers.

    It’s been 2 months exactly since the earthquake struck, so we have a fresh-off-the-presses 2 month report here: [PDF warning]

    http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/international/Haiti/HaitiEarthquake_TwoMonthReport.pdf

    Since the earthquake struck in Haiti on January 12, the American public has given approximately $333 million (as of 5:00 p.m. 03/2/10) for our Haiti relief and recovery efforts. Of that $333 million we have so far spent or allocated $106.4 million to meet the most urgent needs of earthquake survivors. We will continue to support hundreds of thousands of additional survivors in the years ahead until the last donated dollar is spent.

    Here’s a pie chart (PDF again) that reflects where we’ve spent the $106.4 million:

    http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/international/Haiti/Haiti_Funds_PieChart.pdf

    Here’s a Google map that shows exactly where we’re operating in Haiti:

    http://www.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Arlington,+Tarrant,+Texas&hl=en&msa=0&msid=118050620632555939397.00047e519b35293e2bf4e&ll=18.521934,-72.452087&spn=0.520863,0.753937&z=10&source=embed

    For longer term recovery efforts, we will concentrate on shelter, water and sanitation, disease prevention, and livelihood assistance.

    Shelter:

    We know there are 1.3 million people who were left homeless by the earthquake. We have been able to distribute emergency shelter to 650,000 people and we are on track to reach the remainder of the 1.3 million people on or before May 1. We are spearheading plans to provide more durable cover, including construction of transitional shelters for 250,000 of Haiti’s most vulnerable people. Construction will be done in phases as land ownership issues are resolved and debris is cleared.

    Food, water, and relief items:

    At the same time we’re addressing immediate and longer-term shelter solutions, we continue to provide food, water and relief items – up to 12,500 people are receiving food and basic supplies every day through our sustained distribution efforts. We are also providing 1.5 million liters of water each day in more than 120 locations throughout Port-au-Prince and outlying areas. And sanitation experts are constructing latrines, developing waste-disposal solutions, and installing hand-washing facilities and showers in support of spontaneous settlements.

    Livelihoods:

    To complement ongoing aid distributions in Port-au-Prince and reach additional families in need, we announced March 10 that we’ll provide financial assistance to help an initial 16,000 families purchase and replace essential items over the next six months through a partnership with Haiti’s largest microfinance institution, Fonkoze.

    Health:

    When the Haitian government decided that it needed to resume vaccination campaigns to help prevent the spread of disease among the spontaneous settlements, we were one of the first organizations to respond by making resources available to protect at least 250,000 children and adults from measles, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. With 120 volunteer vaccinators on the ground, the Red Cross and its partners began vaccinating as many as 10,000 people in a single day. To date, 50 percent of the targeted people have received this lifesaving opportunity.

    Additionally, more than 55,000 people have been treated at Red Cross hospitals and mobile clinics in Port-au-Prince and surrounding communities. Approximately 500 children are welcomed each day to Red Cross sites, where volunteers play games, create art projects and provide psychosocial support. The American Red Cross has also coordinated the shipment of more than 1,800 units of blood to Haiti for treatment of the ill and injured.

    ——————————————————————————–

    9/11

    This site has all the nitty gritty details:

    http://www.redcross.org/911recovery/

    ——————————————————————————–

    Hurricane Katrina

    http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.53fabf6cc033f17a2b1ecfbf43181aa0/?vgnextoid=aaf5f7e39499e110VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD&currPage=258dad0d1d7ae110VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD

    Reply
  16. A.C.

    Dear Wendy (and Beverly, since it seems you work for the Red Cross as well),

    How is it that from March 5 to March 15, the Red Cross managed to ‘spend’ (if they did) an additional 24.4 million according to your own words (from 80 mil in 1st post to 106.4 in 2nd post)? That’s a huge jump. If, as mentioned on several occasions, you are incapable due to logistical reasons of spending the 333 mil donated SPECIFICALLY to Haiti in the 2 1/2 months since the earthquake, then how were you able to spend 24.4 mil in 10 days? Hmm…. While I’m not saying that the Red Cross has not greatly helped Haiti, you should understand why we are concerned…

    Reply
  17. guest

    Hey Wendy, I have a few questions for your orginazation myself.

    1. It starts with the events of 11 September 2001, the Red Cross collected untold millions of dollars which have never been accounted for — $564 million in donations under the auspices of the Liberty Fund. Months later, the Red Cross had distributed only $154 million to the victims of 9/11. The Red Cross said the rest would be used to "fight the war on terror"

    (of which clearly, this so-called "War on Terror" is as phony as a 7 dollar bill. Hence that country has no security amongst its borders. Which any real offical from the Department of Defense would have done.)

    For those donations were NOT intended for that so-called "War On Terror" to begin with, they were for the victims and their familes. Now, is where all the segemts of this one particular issue begins…

    Question 1. What exactly does the American Red Cross have to do with the "War On Terror" ?

    Reply
  18. guest

    Question 2. Why was all of the donations collected, not distributed to the victims and their familes of 11 September 2001?

    Reply
  19. guest

    Question 3. Just exactly what happened to $410 million that was left over? and why was that not allocated to those victims as well?

    Reply
  20. guest

    Question 4. In 1989, after the San Francisco earthquake, the Red Cross passed on only $10 million of the $50 million that had been raised, Where is the rest of that $40 Million?

    Reply
  21. BJ Nichols

    Perhaps it would behoove those of you who continue to bash the American Red Cross to volunteer with ARC so you can learn about and experience, first hand, how disaster relief is handled and the reasons behind those wise decisions Until I worked for the ARC, I too had many misinformed ideas about the organization. Wendy is telling you the truth and by her own volition. If you want to be known as a humanitarian basher so be it. If, however, you would like to be part of the solution to disaster services offered by the American Red Cross, volunteer.

    Reply
  22. bc

    Until you have tried to be responsible for a relief effort, you are not in a position to judge. There are miles of accountability in these processes and people that do not give use these stories as an excuse not to give. Do you really think 5,000 employees should work for free? If you think there should only be 4,999, then pay your way to Haiti and bring some supplies with you.

    Reply
  23. Marshall

    I never donate to the reckless cross. If an organization is truly set up to help those in need why are the salaries so large. I am sure enough people with experience in running large organizations are willing to donate time to run these organizations. Also a cap of 5% of collected funds is the most that should be allowed for fund raising.

    Reply
  24. American

    Bay View; You may want to consider reprinting this and a little follow-up on tragedies since Haiti. After all people do tend to forget. Where is all of the money for Katrina, the money sent for Newtown, Ct., Boston, and the list does go on. Haiti has been forgotten, even after billions upon billions of dollars were promised to rebuild. This, I pray, was a once in a life-time opportunity to charge that poor country into a self-efficient and productive one. A new port could have been built thus allowing for the tourist trade. The presidents agenda for solar and wind power could have been used nation wide. The dream of a transit system, already designed and ready to go by Siemens for us, the US could have been implemented. On and on it goes, however Americans are sick and tired of seeing their tax dollars being shipped to other countries when there is such great need at home. They have every reason to object too. Billions of our dollars went to aiding Iraq. Billions are still unaccounted for. I have read that as much as 40 billion has some how been lost in Afghanistan, unaccounted for. Not even a "thank you" from Iraq or a drop of oil after the billions and even greater the lose of American lives and limbs, and minds. How many millions have we the people given to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, along with our tanks and planes? The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 has one major goal; to establish a new Islamism through out the east and north Africa, and the death of all "infidels." Thomas Jefferson experience the wrath of Muslims when he was living in Europe as our Secretary of State and trying to deal with the Barbary Pirates. The day he and Adams were told by their diplomat in charge that all things would be settled when the heads of all infidels had been cut off he took immediate action. He was on the next ship home, crossing the Atlantic. When home he started the building of our Navy; which today is the most mighty in the world. The Red Cross? Where is all of the money starting with Katrina? Where is all the money given to so many by so many hard working and compassionate Americans following 9-11. Where is the remainder of the 20 billion that BP had to pay-up after they destroyed The Gulf. Ask Ken Feinberg, he is now in Boston seeing to the distribution of all the money donated there. How many millions was Ken's law firm paid for doing 9-11, The Gulf, and now Boston? Following Katrina and the ways our money was ill-spent or not spent at all I began my serious look. I became like a small MacArthur Foundation; small as I do not have their monetary resources. Of the many our there I have found, on an international level, both "Doctors Without Borders," and many of the very small "faith-based" groups to be doing the most with the least. Nationally, the work of Focus Adolescent Services exceeds all others. If you want to understand the American Red Cross, it may help if you read the names of the people who sit on their Board of Directors.

    Reply
    1. Guest

      Shilling at its finest. Always give to the ARC. They are a reliable American Org with a long history of service

      Reply

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