Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Video: American Red Cross must explain $175 million in unallocated Haiti donations

The matter of the unallocated $175 million in American Red Cross Haiti donations focused on earlier, finally received attention via the American Red Cross’ own blog, which this blogger happened to visit Tuesday. The post, written by Gloria Huang, reads as follows:

Recently, we’ve been seeing some confusion from readers and bloggers online about the allocation of funds for Haiti relief. We would like to clarify how our Haiti relief funds are being used and how we are planning for their allocation in the future.

In just over a month, the American Red Cross has already spent or allocated $80 million of the $276 million donated to meet the most urgent needs of Haiti’s earthquake survivors.

The $80 million allocated so far has gone towards immediate relief for Haitians – 69% for food and water, 20% for shelter, and 11% for health and family services. The remaining $196 million will be spent as the Red Cross continues to focus on finding communities and populations in need in Haiti in order to give them the things they can use to survive this difficult situation.

Every donated dollar will be spent on relief in Haiti; because of the generosity of our donors, people in Haiti will receive resources, support and training from the Red Cross that will help them recover and rebuild in the years ahead.

The error, then, is in the initial American Red Cross report, which still reads as follows:

Since the earthquake, the American Red Cross has raised approximately $255 million for the Haiti relief and recovery efforts. To date, it has spent or committed $80 million, with approximately 69 percent of the funds spent or committed for food and water; 20 percent for shelter; and 11 percent for health and family services. As the response progresses and recovery begins, the Red Cross will continue to support these priority areas and longer-term assistance initiatives.

The words “spent or committed $80 million” are what caught this blogger’s attention. Note that the report fails to mention $175 million or $196 million for that matter. It was done only after attention was brought to the problems in the American Red Cross report by me.

Since then I’ve received a number of interesting emails and phone calls. Look, of an estimated $644 million raised for Haiti relief, one company, the American Red Cross, is responsible for one-third of that. Someone told me that the real reason for the omission of the $175 million was that when a person donated online they had to specifically designate where their money was going; if they did not click “Haiti”, the donation went to the Red Cross’ International Response Fund. The caller claims the International Response Fund money does not go to Haiti.

This link is to the donations page – DONATE. Note that Haiti is one of several choices and it’s down the page. So the question is this: is the $175 million or now $196 million really donations just taken in, and only $80 million was captured because some donors clicked on the “Haiti” tag? And why doesn’t the American Red Cross have a specific webpage and link button just for Haiti?

To this eye, it seems that the ARC is trying to use the Haiti issue to increase all of its donor coffers, not just that for Haiti.

So this matter’s still open and is getting even more interesting. What’s really funny is that because some disagree with these posts, and may be paid by the American Red Cross to respond to them via comments on the blog, they reach for the “wouldn’t a journalist…” blast. That always happens when they don’t agree. I remind them that I’m a blogger, far beyond a journalist. Bloggers have to mention their biases and can’t hide behind the statements of false “experts”. Bloggers – video or text – make it happen. Bloggers – especially video-bloggers – rock.

1 comment:

  1. Concerned about blogger accuracyApril 7, 2010 at 10:38 AM

    I cannot believe that random bloggers like you, who just don't read things accurately or do proper research, can just say all of these inaccurate things to the general public. Is this what our society has come to? Rampant, uninformed conspiracy theories abound!

    I encourage everyone to go to the American Red Cross website (www.redcross.org) where there is all of the detail and transparency you could ever need on how they are spending the Haiti money donated. It is all going to Haiti in a responsible manner.

    The difference in numbers stated above has to do with the total amount of Haiti money raised and spent on each of those dates. The amount of money raised increased between the two statements referenced by this blogger.

    And the American Red Cross DOES have a specific webpage and link button just for Haiti -- www.redcross.org/haiti. Stop the misinformation and go do something productive for this world. Easy for the likes of bloggers like you to sit in your house typing on the computer while others are breaking their backs actually out there trying to help people in need.

    I really can't believe the world is this full of false conspiracies by hackers. What a waste of everyone's time. It becomes harder to find the true information amongst all of this garbage.