NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 9, 2006

Over the last 12 months -- with the Indian Ocean tsunami, the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, and the Pakistan earthquake -- fund-raising records have been broken by the American Red Cross and smaller organizations. While much of this money goes to worthy rescue and rebuilding projects, most Americans are unaware that a shocking amount never ends up helping the people it was intended for, says Richard M. Walden, president of Operation USA, an international relief agency.


  • Some agencies take in so much aid they simply cannot spend it all on one disaster.
  • Sometimes the newly flush groups do little because they have no significant history of working in the stricken area or no experience dealing with a particular type of disaster.
  • Worse, some agencies use the money to push agendas that have little to do with victims' immediate needs.

In late November it was reported that the American Red Cross still had $400 million of the $567 million it had collected for the tsunami since Dec. 26, 2004. Meanwhile, many of the countries hit by the waves, all of which have their own national Red Cross or Red Crescent societies, continue to beg for more help with housing, health and education programs.

Fortunately, some have taken notice, says Walden. Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.) issued a report accusing the Red Cross of having "pulled the wool over out eyes" and calling for increased Congressional oversight of its fund-raising and operations.

Source: Richard M. Walden, "In Charity, Too, the Rich Get Richer," The New York Times, January 3, 2006.

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