The American Red Cross is again facing criticism for how its donations are spent, this time related to the outpouring of support in response to Hurricane Harvey. In an interview with NPR's Ailsa Chang Thursday, a Red Cross executive admitted to having no knowledge of what percentage of its donations will actually go directly to Hurricane Harvey relief.
"Yeah, I don't think I know the answer to that any better than the chief fundraiser knows how many, how much it costs to put a volunteer downrange for a week and how many emergency response vehicles I have on the road today," Red Cross executive Brad Kieserman said when asked how much of each donated dollar goes toward relief efforts.
When pressed about previous reports of Red Cross spending 25 percent of Haiti donations on internal administrative costs and whether such spending practices were still in place, Kieserman said he had no "visibility" on that issue and confirmed he didn't know the percentage of donations currently going to Harvey. "No, I really don't," Kieserman said. "I wish I could answer your question, but it's not something I have visibility on in the role that I play in this organization."
Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern further addressed the criticism during an appearance on CBS This Morning Thursday. McGovern claimed "on average, 91 cents of every dollar" will go to "Red Cross services." Such services are said to include food and other supplies. "We are going to make sure that every designated dollar that is going to this storm is used appropriately," McGovern said. The "91 cents of every dollar" figure has previously been disputed.
As the nonprofit news organization ProPublica outlined in a Twitter thread Wednesday, Red Cross has been criticized multiple times in the past for its donation distribution practices. According to ProPublica's extensive reporting on prior Red Cross fundraising, for example, the humanitarian organization raised half a billion dollars for Haiti relief and built only six homes.
Instead of giving money to the Red Cross, some have suggested turning to more regional organizations, including churches.