Q: What does the American Red Cross do?
A: The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization,
led by volunteers, that provides relief to victims of disaster and
helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. It
does this through services that are consistent with its Congressional
Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross
and Red Crescent Movement.
The American Red Cross also is the foremost volunteer emergency
service organization in the United States, with more than 1,400
chapters nationwide, 38 Blood Services regions, 18 Tissue Services
centers, plus hundreds of field stations on U.S. military
installations around the world.
Q: When and how did the Red Cross get started in the United
A: After serving on one of the first humanitarian missions
of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Clara Barton founded
the American Association of the Red Cross on May 21, 1881. A
volunteer who cared for soldiers during the Civil War, she became
deeply committed to ensuring that the U.S. government ratified the
Geneva Convention of 1864 and to establishing an organization in the
United States that would help alleviate human suffering.
Q: How many people work for the American Red Cross?
A: There are 32,262 paid staff members and 1.39 million
Q: Is the Red Cross a U.S. government agency?
A: No. The Red Cross is a private, nonprofit human service
organization. It functions independently of government but works
closely with the government during times of major crises,
particularly in wartime and during major disasters. In 1900, the U.S.
Congress chartered the American Red Cross to provide services to
members of the U.S. Armed Forces and to disaster victims at home and
abroad. Operating under a revised 1905 charter, the Red Cross
continues to provide these mandatory services.
Q: What organizations comprise the International Red Cross
A: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is
a phrase that symbolizes the unity of all Red Cross work carried out
by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; 170
national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world,
including the American Red Cross; and the Magen David Adom in Israel.
Q: Is the Red Crescent connected to the Red Cross?
A: Yes. Although the red cross is not a religious symbol,
the symbol of the red crescent is used instead of the red cross by
national societies in most Islamic countries. Both Red Cross and Red
Crescent national societies comprise the International Red Cross and
Red Crescent Movement.
Q: In how many countries is the Red Cross present?
A: There are 170 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and
the Magen David Adom in Israel. Additionally, there are 110
operational international Red Cross delegations carrying out
humanitarian missions in areas of disaster, armed conflict, or civil
disturbance around the world.
Q: How is the American Red Cross funded?
A: The Red Cross depends on the charitable contributions of
the American people. In addition to seeking individual donations, the
Red Cross receives fees for some of its services, participates in the
United Way and Combined Federal Campaign, and solicits funds from
corporations. The Red Cross also receives reimbursements and grants
on occasion from local, state, and federal government agencies for
Q: How much money did the Red Cross raise in fiscal year
A: Total donations to the Red Cross in fiscal year 1995
were $465.6 million. Revenues from Red Cross biomedical services,
investment income, income from endowment funds, contracts and grants,
program materials, and the gain on sale of assets totaled more than
$1.2 billion in fiscal year 1995. Public support and revenues totaled
$1.72 billion in fiscal year 1995, down just slightly from $1.74
billion the previous year.
Q: How much of the money the Red Cross spends is used to help
A: Ninety-two cents of every dollar spent goes to programs
and services to help those in need. The real value of every donated
dollar becomes magnified by the fact that the ratio of Red Cross
volunteers to paid staff is 43 to 1.
Q: How can I make a donation to the Red Cross?
A: Individuals wishing to donate to the American Red Cross,
Greenwich Chapter may send a check to: 231 East Putnam Avenue,
Greenwich, CT 06830. Also, donors may call 1-203-869-8444 to charge a
financial contribution to the American Red Cross, Greenwich Chapter
to their credit card.
Q: Who runs the American Red Cross?
A: Red Cross policy is set by volunteer leaders at both the
national and the local levels. Local volunteers help determine Red
Cross services and programs, basing the decisions on community needs.
Paid and volunteer staff at the national level help support local Red
Cross activities. An all-volunteer Board of Governors sets national
Red Cross policies under which chapters across the country operate.
Q: Who are American Red Cross volunteers?
A: American Red Cross volunteersmore than a million
strongcome from all walks of life, ages, and backgrounds. Red
Cross volunteers assume a variety of leadership positions within the
organization, from the all-volunteer Board of Governors, which sets
policy for the organization, to the individual who teaches first aid
at the community center, organizes a community blood drive, or
provides comfort to families affected by a disaster. Whatever their
volunteer job, their goal is to make their community a better place
Q: How do people volunteer
to help carry out Red Cross disaster relief activities in the U.S. and overseas?
A: People who wish to volunteer should contact their local
Red Cross chapter because the vast majority of volunteer
opportunities are typically found within an individuals local
community. International disaster relief workers are drawn from a
pool of paid and volunteer staff with extensive prior experience. In
addition to disaster relief activities, there are a wide variety of
volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross supporting all of the
Q: Whats the difference between the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross?
A: The Red Cross is a nonprofit
voluntary organization that
responds to disasters regardless of their size and scope; FEMA is a
federal government agency that helps in those disasters that receive
presidential declarations. For example, in 1995, the Red Cross
responded to more than 63,000 disasters nationwide; FEMA responded to
Some of FEMAs work involves community
recovery, such as
rebuilding bridges, roads, and public buildings. The Red Cross
provides assistance to meet individual humanitarian needs. Also,
under the federal response plan, the Red Cross and FEMA have separate
responsibilities. The Red Cross is responsible for mass
careproviding food, shelter, bulk distribution of
disaster relief supplies, first aid, and disaster welfare
information. FEMA is directly responsible for information and
planning and urban search and rescue, and the
overall coordination of any activities conducted under the federal
Q: How many disasters occur annually in the U.S.?
A: In recent years, the American Red Cross has responded to
more than 60,000 natural and man-made disasters annually. In 1995,
the Red Cross responded to 63,394 domestic disasters, including
hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, hazardous
materials spills, civil disturbances, explosions, and transportation
Q: Is the blood supply safe?
A: The nations blood supply is safer today than it
has ever been and is as safe as modern science and medicine can make
it. A person cannot contract the virus that causes AIDS by donating
blood. In fact, the risks of contracting a bloodborne disease through
transfusion pale in comparison to the risks of not receiving a
transfusion. The chance of contracting the virus that causes AIDS
through a blood transfusion is one in 676,000 units of blood
much less than the chances of someone having a fatal reaction to
anesthesia during surgery (one out of every 15,00030,000
persons) or an adverse reaction to penicillin (one out of every
Q: What is the correct way to refer to the Red Cross in a
A: If the story concerns an event or situation in the
United States, in the first reference, use American Red Cross;
thereafter, the Red Cross is fine. If the event is outside the United
States, please contact the American Red Cross for clarification of
Red Cross involvement.