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13 Facts about the Red Cross Response in Haiti

This post was updated on June 4 to include additional details on spent and committed funds (see the fourth myth/fact pair) and a link to our Myths vs. Facts matrix in French. Please also see a new post by David Meltzer, “The Real Story of the 6 Homes in Haiti: Answering Your Questions.”

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, almost five and a half years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the American Red Cross has made a difference in the lives of millions of Haitians who desperately needed help and humanitarian assistance.

These funds have helped build and operate eight hospitals and clinics, stem a deadly cholera outbreak, provide clean water and sanitation, and move more than 100,000 people out of make-shift tents into safe and improved housing. When land was not available for new homes, the Red Cross provided a range of housing solutions including rental subsidies, repairs and retrofitting of existing structures, fulfilling our promise to ensure tens of thousands of Haitians are back in homes. We also built and repaired schools, roadways and water distribution points vital to neighborhoods.

Read our full statement here. Our Myths vs. Facts matrix (13 Faits au Sujet de l’Aide Humanitaire de la Croix-Rouge Américaine en Haïti) is also available in French. You can also visit redcross.org/haiti to learn more.




The American Red Cross never had a final plan for its work in Haiti. The Red Cross began our long term planning shortly after the earthquake. Within the first year we had a working plan that established six strategic priorities and added a seventh:

  1. Emergency relief
  2. Shelter
  3. Health
  4. Water and sanitation
  5. Livelihoods
  6. Disaster preparedness
  7. Cholera prevention

Haiti is a complex place to work and because of that we needed to adjust and improve the plan to address the changing environment and challenges.

Example: When we could not secure land to provide new housing, we focused on safe housing with a wide spectrum of choices, not a one-size-fits all plan (rental subsidies, repairs and retrofitting of existing homes, as well as teaching people how to repair their homes).


Internal issues delayed services.

  • Staff turnover
  • Lack of planning
  • Poor relationships with partners

  • We have worked effectively, leveraging the capacity and specific skill sets of 47 partners to extend our reach and serve a spectrum of needs simultaneously.
  • Staff turnover was relatively low and, as we understand, consistent with other NGOs in Haiti.
  • The Red Cross continuously responded to changing circumstances by adapting our plan and remaining responsive to emerging and evolving needs.


Red Cross service delivery statistics are misleading.
  • 4.5 million people have been helped through our disease prevention programs. That’s the most conservative estimate of people assisted.  
  • Many who received help through disease prevention programs also benefited from multiple Red Cross services such as housing, job training, and access to clean water, but we only count them once. 
Details of Red Cross spending are so broad as to be useless. The Red Cross reports annually how we spend donor dollars on our website and break it down according to sector. We raised $488 million for our work in Haiti and here is how our spent and committed funds have been allocated:

  • Emergency relief: $66 million
  • Shelter: $173 million
  • Health: $73 million
  • Water and sanitation: $47 million
  • Livelihoods: $48 million
  • Disaster preparedness: $56 million
  • Cholera prevention: $25 million
The Red Cross takes overhead, then grants money to partners who also take overhead.
  • 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to our humanitarian programs and services.
  • We partner with organizations that also keep their expenses low. 
  • It is more cost effective to rely on the expertise of partners than if we tried to build and staff these programs from scratch.


The Red Cross gave donor dollars to the U.S. government.
  • It is rare that we would grant money to a government agency, but in this case we pooled funds with the U.S. Agency for International Development – which assesses no overhead – each bringing our expertise and strengths to the project.
The Red Cross president promised to provide tens of thousands of people with permanent homes but only built six new homes.
  • The Red Cross has provided more than 132,000 people with safe and durable housing, through a variety of methods.
  • Often, the fastest and most efficient way to get people into safer homes is through rental subsidies, or repairs and/or retrofitting of existing homes.
  • We also build and repair infrastructure that is vital to neighborhood recovery – like schools, roadways and water distribution points. 
  • The bottom line is that there hasn’t been sufficient land available to build new homes – particularly in the most heavily affected areas of Port-au-Prince where people want to live.
  • Haitians don’t want to leave the neighborhoods where they lived, worked and went to school before the earthquake.
  • Red Cross has fulfilled our promise to make sure tens of thousands of Haitians are back in homes. 
The Red Cross calls temporary, or t-shelters, permanent homes. False.

  • In no place has the Red Cross called a t-shelter a permanent home. We consistently refer to the range of housing solutions that the Red Cross has offered in Haiti to provide people safe housing.
The cholera program had severe delays getting off the ground, despite Gail McGovern’s statement that Red Cross “sprang into action.” False.

  • Within 72 hours of the announcement of the cholera outbreak, teams of Haitian Red Cross volunteers were providing cholera prevention training in camps and staff members were sent to the epicenter of the epidemic to help respond.
  • Within five days, tens of thousands of pounds of cholera relief supplies were airlifted.
  • We have also provided most of the funding for a first-ever cholera vaccine in Haiti, and $47 million for projects to provide clean water.  
The Red Cross didn’t hire enough Haitians on staff, relying heavily on expensive “expat” staff. Wrong. 

  • Since the beginning of our earthquake recovery program, more than 90 percent of our staff has been Haitian.
  • Red Cross does not tolerate prejudice of any kind and took steps to train people in  cultural sensitivity.
  • The American Red Cross has hired some international staff with expertise in major disaster recovery and their benefit package is in line with the international humanitarian sector.
The Red Cross misled residents of LAMIKA by not telling them how much money would be spent there and not fulfilling promises of new homes.
  • We worked very closely with community residents in LAMIKA to keep them informed of plans and budgets, and got their input to decide how to spend funds in their neighborhoods.
  • We initially budgeted for 700 houses to be repaired, retrofitted or built, but we adapted and responded to the fact that clear title to land in the LAMIKA community could ultimately not be obtained.
  • Additionally, residents gave a higher priority to other needs such as roads and pathways, jobs, schools, etc., so we invested in shared community assets such as road, sidewalk, drainage and school construction.
Sources in the Red Cross say that 24 cents of every dollar donated for international programs goes to overhead – not 9 cents.
  • As with every dollar the Red Cross spends, an average of 91 cents goes to our humanitarian programs and services and only 9 cents to management, general and fundraising.
The Red Cross declined to show us projects in Haiti.
  • The Red Cross often arranges interviews for U.S. based media when they are visiting Haiti.
  • Other media outlets routinely provide us with several days of notice before visiting because they understand that our staff members have to stop their work to accommodate journalists.
  • We denied the request of ProPublica and NPR after they showed up in Haiti without making arrangements ahead of time.

Giving Day Is Here!

Giving Day has arrived! Visit the Giving Day website to donate and stand together – All In 1 Day – so that every day, when needed, neighbors in your community will not be alone. When you give to the American Red Cross, you are delivering help and hope to people when they need it most.


So you donated and want to share your good news? Try one of our suggested posts, written just for you!

Find customizable posts on the Giving Day Social Ambassador website. Just find the Weekly Posts or In Your Words tabs, find a post you like and post to your social networks.


Find custom profile pictures for all your social networks in the Image Library tab, like this one for Facebook:


And don’t miss the other images in the Image Library tab to help give a visual boost to all your posts.


Share why you’re all in with our Selfie Sign. Write your story on the sign, snap a photo and include the #allin1day hashtag wherever you post – Vine, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Join us to help bring more good days to those in need.

About our Corporate Giving Day Supporters

The American Red Cross is grateful for those corporate donors that have gone “all in” to support our Giving Day. They include: eBay, Energy Future Holdings/TXU Energy/Luminant, Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, Konica Minolta, Kroger Pharmacy, Midwest Recycling, and State Farm.  Thanks to the generosity of these and other supporters, the Red Cross is able to deliver help and hope every day to people when they need it most.

On the Ground Perspective: Lone Star Response

Post by Richard Reed, Senior Vice President, Disaster Cycle Services

TX1They say everything is bigger in Texas. They aren’t kidding. I’m writing to you from here in the Lone Star state. I came to see the operation in action and to spend time with the volunteers and employees who are putting in serious overtime helping those devastated by the floods and tornadoes.

TX2For those who aren’t familiar with what’s going on in Texas, here is a good background read. The disaster operations here and in Oklahoma are our largest and most complex since Hurricane Sandy. It’s not just the size that makes it complicated, but the drawn-out nature of the event. So far it’s affected nearly every part of this large state, including both urban and rural areas.

Here are some quick impressions of what I’ve seen on the ground from Red Cross disaster operations:

  • The Red Cross has scaled up disaster operations fast.  Already, we have multi-agency resource centers set to open this weekend where residents will be able to interact with multiple agencies and community organizations to get the support they need during this tough time.
  • Our local Red Cross folks are doing an amazing job, but after a month of responses they are fatigued. So now we’re bringing in support from across the country to give staff here some well-deserved rest. It’s great to see staff working together as we respond to a disaster that impacts thousands of people over such a large geographic area.
  • There is incredible collaboration with diverse partners. Red Cross partners include Buddhist Tzu Chi, Southern Baptists Disaster Relief, the Salvation Army, Church of the Brethren, Islamic Relief USA, Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul, Portlight Strategies, the National Council on Independent Living, the National Council of La Raza, and local businesses like HEB Grocery Store. It is inspiring to see the community coming together here to help those in need.

dogIt’s been a long month for the Lone Star state and our responding Red Cross folks here, some of whom have seen their own homes flooded and devastated.  Despite the challenges, I am encouraged by the resiliency of Texas, and the compassionate determination of our Red Cross staff who are working tirelessly to help affected communities.

Hats off to all those who have helped out or who have offered their support.

If you’d like to help, please consider making a financial donation. A donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief can help provide food, water and shelter for someone who has had to leave their home. Help people affected by disasters like floods, tornadoes and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Digital Disaster Response

Post by Nigel Holderby, Public Affairs Volunteer 

There are many aspects of disaster response. From shelter operations including caseworkers, driving a feeding truck, and managing the distribution of clean up supplies, all the way up to the operation headquarters. There is one thing that is connected to, and connects, everything: Communication.

Currently, there are more than 1000 volunteers who have been assigned to the operation in Texas. Those are boots on the ground volunteers as well as digital volunteers. Digital Operations is nothing new for Red Cross. In fact, Digital Volunteers, or as we call them, DigiVols, have been around since 2011 and the value they add to an operation is integral to situational awareness as well as connecting people to valuable information and even emotional support.

In each phase of a disaster there are conversations that begin online. These match the conversations happening in the physical space starting with preparedness, and then moving to response and lastly, recovery.

When sharing information with the online community, DigiVols are trained experts in getting out the right messages. Whether it is sharing the link to download the free Red Cross tornado app or tips about where current shelters are open, these messages are being seen and people are taking action.

Dig Disaster Response 1

The value of the digital operation can be quantified through numbers. During the response to storms and floods in Texas we measured several things to see how our online communication was being received in the digital space. Some of the important things we look at are how many people take action with the information we share, which many times is looked at under the broad umbrella of “Engagement.”

Dig Disaster Response 2

In just one week @RedCrossDFW saw an average of 23.3k Impressions per day. With an average of 60 people taking action each day to click the links, they were able to access valuable and life-saving information.

One of the most recent examples, showing the value of social media during disaster, is this connection that happened between a deaf family and our casework/recovery team. Digital Volunteers are connecting much needed resources to a family whose only connection to help was through the use of written word.

Dig Disaster Response 3

The digital space continues to evolve, becoming more important and valuable with each passing day. With each new disaster that comes our way, the Red Cross will be here, physically and digitally, providing hope and help to those affected by disaster.

Gail McGovern’s Georgetown Commencement Speech

Earlier this month, Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern gave the 2015 commencement speech to McDonough School of Business graduate students at Georgetown University.

She had some great advice to share, and we wanted to share it with you! Hear Gail talk about her five keys to successful leadership and suggest to ask other leaders the same question to pick and choose what points resonate with you personally. Here’s Gail’s start to develop your own leadership style:

  1. Staffing. Effective leaders recruit great peopel to work for them.
  2. Embrace change. If you don’t embrace change, you can’t survive in corporate America. Or in the non-profit world, for that matter.
  3. Be resilient. Everyone is watching you and taking cues. If you don’t project confidence and optimism, it can rattle an organization.
  4. Make decisions purely based on what’s good for the institution.
  5. Effective leaders lead not only with their head, but also with their heart.

Watch her entire speech below.

Giving Day Countdown: One Week Left!

We’re always on the move at the Red Cross, even when disaster aren’t top of mind for everyone across the country. Just this month, Red Cross volunteers provided meals, relief supplies, shelter and helped people begin the recovery process in NepalPhiladelphia and New York, and in numerous states affected by tornadoes and flooding.

We couldn’t be there to help without the generous support of the American public. On June 2, we are asking everyone to make a donation online to the Red Cross for Giving Day. You can even schedule your Giving Day donation today.

Countdown Material

Grab your countdown images off the Giving Day Social Ambassador website (what? You’re not a Social Ambassador yet? Sign up!) or save the images straight from this blog.

(Other image sizes available on the website)

Use Tuesday, May 26:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Wednesday, May 27:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Thursday, May 28:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Friday, May 29:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Saturday, May 30:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Sunday, May 31:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Monday, June 1:

Alabama tornadoes 2011


This Memorial Day, Be Their Champion

Every day, the American Red Cross honors the men and women of the United States Armed Forces as they sacrifice their comforts and freedoms to serve our country. This Memorial Day, we take extra time to remember and dedicate our work to those who have fallen in service to our country. Featured in yesterday’s blog post, we are issuing a call to action to our entire community that no veteran dies alone in America because every veteran matters to all Americans.

In honor of those who have fallen, we invite you to join us this Memorial Day in supporting service members, veterans and their families. From May 22 – May 26, you can support the work of the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces by making a donation using the generosity app from Google’s OneToday website and mobile app (download for free on Google Play or Apple App Stores). This app aims to create a culture of giving every day and lets donors easily give $1 each day to causes and nonprofits that inspire them. Thanks to generous support from SanDisk, your $1 donation will be multiplied by 1x, 10x, 100x, or even 1000x…up to $50,000.


Thank you for supporting the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces. We are truly honored to serve those who have served us.

5 Safety Tips for Grill Masters Readying to Fire up Their BBQ’s

Post by Kevin Wilkinson, Communications Intern

Memorial Day Social Media Grilling Tip

The beginning of the summer is often filled with numerous ‘firsts’ – the first trip back to the beach, the first cannonball in the pool, the first ice cream truck spotting and the first picnic at the local park. With Memorial Day weekend only days away, Americans are getting ready to honor their veterans and also conquer many of these firsts of the summer season.

While families and friends celebrate the unofficial start of summer, it is also one of the first times that people are firing up their barbecues for the season. Nothing says summer like a hot dog, cheeseburger or corn on the cob fresh off the grill. With that being said, there are a few safety precautions as we head into prime barbecuing season.

Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. 

You don’t want to burn that cheeseburger that’s waiting for you! 

  1. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.

Take advantage of the beautiful weather and cook outside. 

  1. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.

Your guests might be hungry but they still have to wait until the food is off the grill to get their hands on it! 

  1. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. 

 Keep the party going and use these safety precautions while cooking. 

  1. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe. 

Provide the chef with the right tools to keep their hands safe so they can participate in the post-barbecue volleyball game.  


Make sure to also download the Red Cross First Aid App. This free app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips. The app is available for smart phones and tablets.

Every family and group of friends has the one individual who inevitably becomes the grill master for every summer party. Keep the good food coming all summer long and share these safety tips with your party’s grill master.

For more information about getting preparing for and preventing home fires, check out tips and resources from the Home Fire Campaign from the American Red Cross.

Memorial Day: A Time to Remember and an Opportunity to Help

On the last Monday in May, we take time to honor the men and women who died in military service to the United States. Today we’d like you to introduce you to someone who serves U.S. veterans at the last stage of life, day in and out, with the utmost compassion.

Meet Laura, an American Red Cross volunteer with the No Veteran Dies Alone program.

Laura serves in a unique volunteer capacity. By providing comfort and relief to veterans and their families at the end of life, Laura feels as though she’s honoring military members for their service, “They were there for us and we need to be there for them.”

Through the No Veteran Dies Alone program, volunteers sit with veterans, reading or talking to them, playing music and sometimes just holding their hand. They also relieve family members during the stressful final days in hospice care. Laura feels it’s an honor to sit with them during their last hours. “It’s a blessing be there for them at this stage in their lives and I’m so grateful to be able to do it,” said Laura.

Happy Memorial Day Laura and thank you for all you do. You can read more on RedCross.org.

Have a compassionate heart and willing to take a little training? Volunteer with the American Red Cross.


The Barton Report: May Podcast

Welcome to The Barton Report, a podcast brought to you by the American Red Cross.

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with The Barton Report on BlogTalkRadio

Listen here if you have issues with the above player.

This month we’re covering lots of topics to get you ready for this summer. Tune in to hear:

  • A fun Clara Barton fact.
  • Grill safety tips for your Memorial Day weekend.
  • What our “100 days of summer. 100 days of hope.” campaign is all about (hint: it includes an opportunity for you to help save lives!).
  • A volunteer’s story from his deployment to Moore, Oklahoma following the deadly tornadoes in 2013.
  • Swim safety tips as pools across the country open and families head to the beach.

Let us know what you think on Twitter with #TheBartonReport, or shoot us an email at socialmedia@redcross.org.

Until next time! – Beth and Sarah

Special thanks to Audionautix for providing music clips.