How is the money spent? Donations to Red Cross relief efforts explained


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The American Red Cross is continuing to ask for support in the form of monetary donations and volunteers as it works to provide relief to Hurricane Harvey victims and prepare as Hurricane Irma nears Florida.

WHNT News 19 has received a number of emails from viewers asking about the donations. Viewers want to know how much money is actually getting to the victims. We are taking action to get those answers.

When major disasters occur, relief organizations like the American Red Cross ask for help in the form of dollars for an important reason.

Alicia Anger, with the American Red Cross of Alabama explained, “we can do a lot more with a financial donation.”

It lets them purchase much-needed items locally and not waste staff resources to sort, package, transport, warehouse, and distribute items that may not meet the needs of disaster survivors.

But people want to know exactly how their donation is spent. How much of their monetary donations actually go directly to relief efforts.

Alicia Anger says nearly all of it. “91 cents of every dollar goes towards the people that we help. That goes towards food, sheltering.”

For 200 dollars a day a family of four can be helped. “That takes care of food, sheltering, and all of their needs.” Needs like cots, blankets, and hygiene kits.

The remaining $.09 goes towards administrative costs. That $.09 keeps gas in emergency vehicles and cares for the volunteers who work around the clock. “We try to keep our overhead very low, so we give as much as we can.”

There have been a lot of social media posts criticizing the American Red Cross for their practices. One article alleged that 400 hamburgers were turned away by volunteers.

Anger said the organization had “heard about it and are looking into it, so I don’t know the credibility of that article yet.”

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Anger explained that even if it’s true, the American Red Cross doesn’t run all of the shelters and when it comes to food, they do follow strict guidelines. “That’s just to make sure that the people in our shelters are safe. We don’t want anyone to get sick or get hurt.”

This is one reason among many relief organizations prefer monetary donations.  No matter the good intentions, donated goods could become wasted resources.

We checked online, and found all of the American Red Cross` financial information, breaking down how it spends its money.

Anger says they aim to be transparent with their donors.

Would you like to Volunteer with the American Red Cross? Check out their website for information on how to sign up.

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