Wednesday, June 5, 2002
Director of Communications
(401) 831-7700 x101
Rhode Island Red Cross Announces
Strengthened Disaster Fundraising Practices
Program Sets New Standard for Clarifying and Honoring Intent of Donors
The American Red Cross of Rhode Island is announcing a series of bold changes in disaster fundraising practices that are designed to
strengthen the bond between the organization and its donors who make its mission possible. The reforms, which are part of a nationwide Red Cross initiative, give
contributors to the American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund a better understanding of how their donations will be used and allow them to confirm their intent to improve stewardship of their charitable gifts.
"We take very seriously our responsibility both to the donors that support our
disaster relief efforts and the victims who depend on it," said John Ricottilli, Chair, Rhode Island Red Cross. "These new practices raise the standard for accountability
to our donors on whose generosity we depend. We believe that these are the best fundraising practices among charities and they are the right policies for the American Red Cross."
The National Disaster Relief Fund provides the financial support for the Red Cross
response to more than 67,000 disasters each year around the country - including floods, fires, hurricanes and more. The Fund operates as a revolving account,
enabling the Red Cross to respond immediately to every disaster and ensuring that every victim gets comparable assistance regardless of the visibility of the disaster
or the ability of the community to support Red Cross efforts. Red Cross disaster assistance is free of charge and typically includes such essential services as food,
shelter, mental health counseling and other basic relief services that will assist and lead to recovery. Locally, the National Disaster Relief Fund was the backbone of
response efforts in a major East Providence apartment fire last year, as well as such events as the Worcester warehouse fire, EgyptAir Flight 990 and the North Cape Oil Spill.
There are four major changes in Red Cross fund-raising practices:
The Red Cross will use specific language consistently across all disaster relief
fund-raising channels including advertising, direct mailings, Web sites, telemarketing and all public communication. All solicitations will now include
the following language: "You can help the victims of [this disaster] and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a
financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need."
All donors who make undesignated contributions to the National Disaster
Relief Fund will be asked to confirm that they understand the purpose for which their donations will be used before their donations are accepted.
Donors will receive an acknowledgement after their contributions have been
received that will re-confirm their intent and the purposes for which their contributions will be used. These acknowledgements also will instruct donors
on what to do if they have any concerns about how their contributions will be used.
The Red Cross will trigger a fund-raising transition policy in any disaster
where it appears that contributions made around the time of the disaster may exceed the cost of the anticipated disaster assistance. The transition policy
will explicitly inform potential donors that enough money has been received for the current disaster and encourage them to give to the chapter or to the
National Disaster Relief Fund to support the victims of future disasters. This policy is intended to avoid a situation where too much money is raised around
a disaster which, in turn, creates an expectation that more money will be spent on its victims than is normally the case under standard Red Cross protocols.
The Red Cross said the changes are a result of a six-month long process that
included an examination of its current practices, consultation with experts in the field of charitable fund raising, and testing of various approaches with existing and
potential donors. Donors and the public can expect the enhancements of fund raising practices in place by the end of June.
While the Red Cross will continue to honor all donor designations, the organization
also will continue to promote undesignated giving to the National Disaster Relief Fund so that it can respond with equal speed and compassion to the victims of every disaster.
The American Red Cross is dedicated to saving lives, easing suffering and restoring
hope at home and around the world. Currently operating on a budget of $3 billion, the Red Cross annually mobilizes relief to the victims of more than 67,000 disasters
nationwide and has been the primary supplier of lifesaving blood and blood products in the United States for more than 50 years. In 2001, the Red Cross also trained
almost 12 million people in vital lifesaving skills, provided direct health services to nearly 2.6 million people and delivered more than 21 million locally relevant
community services. The organization also assisted international disaster and conflict victims in close to 40 locations around the globe, and its emergency
communication centers processed 1.2 million calls in support of U.S. military families.
Note to Media: This boilerplate below will now be included in future disaster news releases from the national organization.
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary
donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of (this disaster) and thousands of disasters across the country each year by making
a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in
need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the
American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.