Red Cross VP Squirms in Interview on How Donations Are Distributed

I 'really don't' know, exec admits to NPR on Harvey relief efforts
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2017 11:18 AM CDT
Red Cross VP on Portion of Donations Going to Relief: 'Really Don't' Know
Displaced Houston residents huddle together to stay warm underneath Red Cross blankets at the George Brown Convention Center in Houston on Monday.   (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, many have criticized the American Red Cross, with Facebook and others even directing those who want to help to donate to a different charity. The criticism isn't new: As NPR notes, there have long been reports that ARC misstates how donor dollars are used, or uses a significant percentage of that money on internal expenses. NPR's Morning Edition host addressed those criticisms Thursday with Red Cross VP Brad Kieserman, but Kieserman couldn't say what percentage of donations will go toward Harvey relief. "I don't think I know the answer to that any better than the chief fundraiser knows ... how many emergency response vehicles I have on the road today. So I think if he [were] on this interview and you were asking how many relief vehicles in Texas, I don't think he'd know the answer and I don't know the answer to the financial question, I'm afraid."

Questions on high administrative costs reported on in the past led to a similar answer: "It's not something I would have any visibility on. I can talk about what it costs to deliver certain relief services." He continued to say that, no, he "really" doesn't know what portion of donations goes to relief, though he did say that as of Wednesday morning the ARC had spent $50 million on Harvey relief. "We are committed ... to using our resources and donor dollars in a way that best helps the people of Texas," he said. "The folks I work for are very, very attentive to cost effectiveness and cost efficiencies in making sure that as much as every dollar that we spend on an operation is client-facing." The organization's president and CEO, Gail McGovern, was on CBS News Thursday defending the ARC, and she said that on average, 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes toward its services for victims. (More American Red Cross stories.)

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