Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Red Cross Again Under Fire

Close to 50 people have been indicted for stealing funds from the Red Cross fund allocated for Katrina victims in the latest wave of problems to strike the emergency aid agency. (Washington Post: Fraud Alleged at Red Cross Call Centers). Forty-nine people in the Bakersville, CA area have been indicted over the past three months for filing false claims with the Red Cross.

According to the Washington Post, the problem was associated with a system "cobbled together" to get aid to the Katrina victims on very short notice. Given that the very purpose of the Red Cross is to provide this type of assistance after a disaster, one must wonder why any aid distribution would be "cobbled together". Isn't that what this organization does for a living?

This is certainly not the first time the Red Cross has come under fire. The agency spearheaded a very successful fund-raising campaign in the days following 9/11, but then announced that not all of the money collected would go to the 9/11 victims. Rather, they announced that the money would be used for a number of Red Cross initiatives, including preparation for future disasters. Clearly that did not sit well with an American public that donated close to $1 billion after the 9/11 attacks, and the Red Cross was forced to retract that plan after a wave of negative publicity.

Suffice it to say that the Red Cross is very low on my list of charities. The reputation of the agency has suffered significantly of late, and I've lost confidence in their ability to deliver donated funds where they are needed most. The latest corruption scandal is merely the icing on the cake. When faced with a natural disaster, there are plenty of other organizations that are far better equipped than the Red Cross to deliver the necessary funds, equipment, and supplies. Some do it as a matter of routine on a daily basis. The bottom line is, do your research before sending in any donations to an aid organization. Not all are created equal.


1 comment :

Tim said...

I think your dismissal of the Red Cross is premature and unwarranted given the enormity of the disaster. When you have a disaster of this magnitude, and you're trying to get help to people so fast, mistakes will happen. Unfortunately, so will fraud. I'm living and blogging in New Orleans and I will tell you that the Red Cross has been very helpful to a lot of people here. Although FEMA came across with more cash, the Red Cross quickly set up distribution points throughout the devestated areas of the city to give away food, clothes and cleaning supplies. Please don't throw out the baby with the bath water, and keep the Red Cross on your list of worthy causes. I know I will.