Though the Red Cross has a historical reputation for providing relief to victims of natural disasters and other emergencies, the organization’s practices have tarnished its name over the last few years.
Amid the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the Red Cross reportedly accepted nearly $500 million in relief money but built only six homes with the funds even though they claimed they had provided homes to 130,000 people. These failures prompted some Haitians to advise the world against donating funds to the Red Cross.
The organization was accused of diverting resources and supplies to bolster its public image during Hurricane Sandy. As an investigation by NPR and ProPublica found:
“The Red Cross national headquarters in Washington ‘diverted assets for public relations purposes.’
A former Red Cross official managing the Sandy effort says 40 percent of available trucks were assigned to serve as backdrops for news conferences.”
The outlets reported that “[d]istribution of relief was ‘politically driven instead of [Red Cross] planned,’” noting many organizational failures.
Further, a report released last year by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley found that 25% of funds donated to aid in relief for victims of the earthquake was actually spent on internal costs. That amounted to roughly $124 million.
Now, amid the hurricane in Texas, the Red Cross is admitting it currently doesn’t know how the funds it’s receiving are being spent.