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Why Some Are Questioning Giving To The American Red Cross

As the Red Cross seeks donations for relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey, critics are citing some red flags in recent years.
Posted at 1:26 PM, Aug 31, 2017

The American Red Cross is one of the more well-known groups helping with disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey, but some people have said to donate elsewhere.

Critics claim the organization wasn't transparent about where past disaster relief money went.

A 2015 report from NPR and ProPublica did say the Red Cross raised more money than other nonprofits for the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

But that report also claimed Red Cross' on-the-ground efforts were pretty minimal for what was promised. For example, the Red Cross built only six homes, far fewer than the organization said it would.

The Red Cross president said although only six homes were built, the organization made other investments to offer people housing.

Another issue in Haiti that critics now cite is an investigation from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. That investigation found the organization put more of the money it raised in Haiti toward overhead than claimed.

The president of the Red Cross argued 90 percent of funds did go toward Haiti, as pledged.

Still, a charity watchdog flagged the Red Cross' financials in the past two years. Charity Navigator lowered its score of Red Cross' transparency.

But the backlash hasn't stopped several companies and influential people from donating or requesting funds for the Red Cross' efforts after Harvey.

The organization hasn't yet released how much it's gotten so far and how much it plans to put into certain areas for Harvey.

The Red Cross has said it sent out almost half of its "emergency response fleet" and that it has supplies to shelter 34,000 people, with more resources on the way.

Of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn't donate to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists the best practices for donating and volunteering as well as examples of local organizations to give to.

Correction: We added information to a previous version of this story to substantiate critiques against the American Red Cross.