Charity is wonderful feature of economics and free societies. For years the American Red Cross was seen as an American staple of society relating to charity. Unfortunately for several years now it has turned into a very secretive and untrustworthy organization when it comes to money.
Red Cross started to be questioned around the time frame of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Just that one event, they raised over $530 Million dollars and put $200 Million of that into “administrative & long-term” functions. Multiple media sources started catching onto the story and they finally started paying out to the victims.
Sharyl Attkisson in her new blog post has raised more questions of what the American Red Cross is doing with Hurricane Sandy funds. The following excerpts were taken through her blog from propublica.org:
Just how badly does the American Red Cross want to keep secret how it raised and spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy? The charity has hired a fancy law firm to fight a public request we filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a “trade secret.” The Red Cross’ “trade secret” argument has persuaded the state to redact some material, though it’s not clear yet how much since the documents haven’t yet been released.
And the main reason why the American Red Cross is claiming “Trade Secrets”….
If those details were disclosed, “the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross’s business model for an increased competitive advantage,”
I really cannot say what “trade secret” Red Cross would try to be protecting. Yes, organizations like this can protect logos and other identifying marks but people donating to charity is not a trade secret that has to be kept under wraps. Americans can now just sit on their couch and donate from their cell phones and computer devices if they so choose. The charitable donations were also on top of the $60 Billion the government gave to the hurricane stricken area. That money itself will also have to be probably be investigated.
Sharyl Attkisson herself investigated five major non for profits who received charitable contributions to help the Hati people after their major earthquake. This is what she found:
On May 12, 2010 I reported for CBS News on how 5 major nonprofits, including American Red Cross, had spent funds intended for Haiti earthquake victims four months after the disaster. I noted that enough aid had been raised to give each displaced family a check for $37,000 but thousands of Haitians were still going hungry and living under flimsy shelters. I learned that, to a large degree, the charities can’t tell anyone with specificity where exactly all the money goes. They can give general figures such as, ‘we’ve given out 10,000 meals’ or ‘we’ve distributed 10,000 bottles of water,’ but I wondered why there wasn’t a spreadsheet that explains how many bottles or meals were shipped to which refugee camp and when. It seems pretty basic. After all, somebody has to know. A lot of the funds that donors intended for “emergency relief” were, in fact, still sitting in funds unspent. Some charity officials privately acknowledged that many charities receiving a giant influx of donations in the wake of a giant disaster are ill-equipped to produce long term recovery programs. They sometimes find themselves frantically trying to figure out how to spend all the money in a responsible way that serves the mission.
Myself, this is why I have been strictly going with local charities of affected areas or if a national charity, one that does not hesitate to provide data on their sites.