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Corporate Ombudsman Office

Public Advocacy at The Red Cross. Independent. Confidential. Neutral. Informal.


The Office of the Corporate Ombudsman, a cornerstone of the deep commitment the Red Cross has to excellence in public service and high ethical standards, provides a confidential, neutral, independent, and informal place for people to voice their concerns with the Red Cross, its programs or policies or its ability to meet its mission. We are charged under the Modernization Act of 2007 to enhance dispute resolution at, and to identify trends and patterns confronting, the Red Cross.

The Red Cross is a large and complex organization, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming to find a way to make your voice heard. We encourage you to contact us if you are unsure where or how to start addressing a concern or if you are uncomfortable seeking assistance from other offices. We will help you clarify the issues, identify options and think strategically about how you can best raise and most constructively resolve the issues of concern to you.

Whether you are an employee or a volunteer, a partner who helps us to provide services, a blood donor or a blood recipient, or a recipient of any Red Cross service, our office is open to you. We will encourage openness, act as an early warning system and serve as a relief valve for the inevitable tensions and conflicts that arise when people are working diligently under demanding and complex circumstances to serve people in need.

Our Role

As a neutral broker independent of management, the Ombudsman Office is uniquely situated to serve as a listening post for a broad range of internal and external stakeholders. The Ombudsman Office hears such concerns, sometimes through a series of discussions or meetings, and works closely with the individual to craft options for moving forward or resolving the matter.

The Ombudsman uses conflict resolution processes such as facilitation, conciliation, shuttle diplomacy, and mediation to help you resolve issues.

An Ombudsman:

  • Is an informal and alternative resource that is available to all but that no one is required to use
  • Acts impartially and confidentially
  • Advocates for fair process and assists as a change agent for teamwork and collaboration, enhancing trust
  • Provides a mechanism for early problem resolution
  • Promotes better communication
  • Provides a safe place to share concerns
  • Listens without judgment
  • Helps analyze complex situations and untangle issues
  • Answers questions
  • Helps visitors access Red Cross policies and procedures
  • Helps construct non-adversarial approaches to issues
  • Facilitates the resolution of problems and disputes
  • Refers individuals to appropriate ARC resources
  • Use conflict resolution processes such as facilitation, conciliation, shuttle diplomacy, and mediation to help resolve issues.
  • An Ombudsman Does Not:

  • Have authority to accept or provide notice of an alleged violation
  • Advocate for any individual or group
  • Participate as part of any formal grievance or complaint process
  • Share information with others without an individual's knowledge or permission
  • Conduct formal investigations
  • Testify or serve as a witness with respect to confidential communications
  • Make or change policy or administrative decisions
  • Make binding decisions or determine rights
  • Require anyone to follow ombudsman recommendations
  • The Ombudsman Office is an off-the-record, confidential resource for any Red Cross employee or volunteer, donor, or anyone affected by the programs and mission of the American Red Cross.
  • Talking to the Ombudsman does NOT put the Red Cross on legal notice of anything because the office has been designated by statute, Red Cross by-laws and the Ombudsman Office charter as an independent entity within the Red Cross.
  • What we talk about, even the fact that you have contacted our office, will remain strictly confidential.
  • The only exception to confidentiality are: (1) where a visitor gives us permission to make a disclosure and we determine that it is appropriate to do so, and (2) situations that we determine involve an “imminent risk of serious harm,” meaning times when a person is threatening himself or someone else, or is clearly in physical harm's way.
  • The American Red Cross affirms the right of individuals to seek assistance from the Ombudsman Office without fear of retaliation.
  • As designated neutrals, we advocate for fair process, consider the rights and interests of all parties and do not take sides.
  • We have no personal stake in the outcome of any situation and do not judge, discipline or reward anyone.
  • We work with people to help them clarify issues and identify and assess for themselves various options that may be available for raising, addressing and resolving a concern.
  • Use of the Ombudsman Office is not a substitute for formal procedures, such as filing an official complaint or requesting an investigation.
  • We have no managerial authority and cannot compel action or compliance.
  • If a person wishes to place the Red Cross on notice or to request an investigation or any other management action, we can provide you with relevant information about how to do so.
  • We do not participate in any formal complaint or investigation process and do not follow a prescribed or rigid sequence of steps.
  • To ensure our independence and objectivity, the Ombudsman Office is not aligned with any other Red Cross organizational unit.
  • We report directly to the President and CEO, and make regular trend reports to the Audit and Risk Management Committee of the Board of Governors.
  • We also issue an annual report to Congress.
  • The Ombudsman Office was created to be an alternate channel of communication that people can use on a purely voluntary basis. Should one choose to use our services, these are the principles under which we will operate: the Ombudsman Office will not disclose individually identifiable information or keep any permanent records of such information; we will not accept notice of claims against the American Red Cross, nor do we have authority to do so; we will not testify with regard to confidential communications or participate in any formal proceeding; communications with the Ombudsman and staff are confidential and privileged; and this privilege is held by the Ombudsman Office and cannot be waived by others.

    These tenets protect confidentiality and ensure a safe, informal, independent and neutral place for discussing concerns.

    Our Pledge

    We are committed to work with integrity and to adhere to our professional standards while handling concerns in a neutral, informal and confidential manner. The Ombudsman Office will not disclose or discuss any confidential matter without the knowledge and permission of the person who raised the concern, to the extent permitted by law. For more information, you can review the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice from the International Association of Ombudsman to which we adhere.

    This includes not revealing:

  • The identity of individuals who come to our office.
  • The identity of contacts made by the Ombudsman Office in resolving an issue.
  • Specific details and circumstance of matters handled.
  • We will preserve confidentiality except where we determine there is an “imminent risk of serious harm” or we are given permission to make a disclosure and we agree that it would be appropriate to do so.

    Contact Us

    Quick Links for Resolving Common Issues of Concern

    It can be difficult sometimes to find the most appropriate place to raise or address a concern. The Ombudsman office can assist you to clarify issues, identify options and think strategically about how you can best raise and most constructively resolve matters of concern to you.

    If you believe talking about your situation directly with an Ombudsman would help, please contact us confidentially at (202) 303-5399 or 1-866-667-9331 (toll-free), by fax at (202) 639-9825, or by email at

    The links below provide access to established Red Cross mechanisms for resolving concerns commonly presented to our office. They may help support and/or expedite attainment of a solution to your concern.

  • Get answers to general questions and requests regarding Red Cross services, activities and information. Or, call General Inquiries directly at 202-303-4498 (Monday-Friday, 8AM to 5PM)
  • Express concern with a recent blood donation Or, call the Blood Donor and Client Support Center directly at 1-866-236-3276
  • Request to be deleted from the blood donation call list
  • Get assistance with a financial donation
  • Request to be removed from the financial donation contact list
  • Report fraud, waste or abuse
  • Report scams
  • Request emergency communication to a military service member stationed anywhere in the world - You can also call Service to the Armed Forces directly at 1-877-272-7337. Persons outside the U.S. wishing to request emergency communications notification can call 1-202-303-5000 and select option #2
  • Register yourself or search the Safe and Well website to find messages from others who are registered and have posted messages
  • Get information about types of items that can be donated
  • Supplier and vendor registration Diverse suppliers may include copies of their certifications
  • Report Red Cross website issues