Monday, September 19, 2005

The American Red Cross - Trying to get it right this time

Trying to get it right this time - Sep 19, 2005
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In the weeks following the last great domestic disaster, 9/11, the American Red Cross stockpiled blood for those who didn't need it, refused to share critical victim information with other charities, and was dressed down before Congress for planning to use relief funds to improve its internal operations.

So is it good news that, as reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, of the $1.06 billion American charities have raised for Katrina relief so far -- a record pace -- a remarkable 72 percent or $762.5 million, went to the Red Cross?

Despite the group's past blunders, charity watchdogs insist the $3 billion giant, mandated by Congress to work with federal agencies to aid victims of natural disasters, has risen to Katrina's various challenges.

"The Red Cross has turned over a new leaf,"says Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy.

Fund raising has obviously not been a problem.

to channel money through their websites -- and nearly half its Katrina funds arrived via the Internet.

Though not as forthcoming with details of its spending as critics would like, the Red Cross is at least edging toward transparency.

At the height of the New Orleans flooding, the Red Cross followed government orders to steer clear of the Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center, leaving starving people stranded.

A few posers have slipped through the cracks: a Georgia woman is in county jail for scamming the charity out of $1,300 in relief funds.

In Mississippi, victims have complained about a lack of Red Cross presence.

In Houston, it ran out of debit cards that could be used for cash or supplies and had to write checks by hand.

All of this raises the question: Should Americans continue to pour so much money into a single nonprofit known more for first response than for long-term rebuilding?

The Red Cross, insisting it's in the Gulf for the long haul, aims to raise millions more in donations.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


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