The catastrophic 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti resulted in an estimated death toll of 160,000. The disastrous effects of the earthquake untied people worldwide in a call to action to donate to earthquake victims. After nearly half a billion dollars was raised, we failed to see any of the money resulting in effective infrastructure improvements on the ground. Since then, ProPublica, NPR and Congress launched investigations into the American Red Cross.
The findings show the charity organization has been largely inconsistent.
According to a report by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the American Red Cross spent $125 million, about 25% of the donations to Haiti, on their internal costs.
The report states, “there are substantial and fundamental concerns about [the Red Cross] as an organization,” after the charity released insufficient information about its Haiti program. The investigation began after The Red Cross raised close to $500 million, an unprecedented amount, which resulted in merely 6 permanent houses built for Haitians.
Senator Chuck Grassley also found the organization kept their internal investigative team “severely undermanned and underfunded.” Additionally, the Red Cross dedicated $70 million for oversight of the Haiti program however, the report concludes the organization was “unable to provide any financial evidence that oversight activities in fact occurred.”
According to NPR, the Red Cross sent a majority of the funds to non-profits on the ground in Haiti, those non-profits also took their own cuts for “internal costs,” leaving the situation in Haiti bleak. Grassley states “there’s too many questions in regard to how the money was spent in Haiti … it gives me cause to wonder about other money being donated for other national disasters.”
The Red Cross has not commented on Grassley’s report, but a statement outlining Haiti relief efforts is on its website.
Of the $488 million donated, 14 percent ($69 million) has been spent to cover these types of expenses.
This spending helps make sure that our donors’ funds are not misappropriated or wasted. We believe they are justifiable costs given the size and complexity of the Haiti program, the scope and scale of the destruction, the 6+ years’ duration of the program, and the challenging and sometimes dangerous conditions of working in Haiti.
Donations from the American public gave people help—and they gave people hope. Working for and alongside Haitians as they recover and rebuild, the Red Cross has provided funds for 22 hospitals and clinics; helped more than 135,000 people through safe housing and neighborhood recovery; rebuilt schools, roads, and bridges; and have built or repaired more than 9,000 latrines and other water & sanitation systems.
Grassley’s report also found that the Red Cross roughly 20,000 employees while its ethics office consists of three people which is down by almost 65 staffers.