Local Actions Have International Impact
The American Red Cross responds to international disasters by sending financial assistance, pre-positioned relief supplies from our global warehouses, trained emergency response personnel, or any combination of the three.
Not all disasters overseas require our assistance. Even large disasters that dominate the news can often be managed by that country’s Red Cross or Red Crescent organization. For example, Indonesia experiences frequent intense earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; as a result, the Indonesian Red Cross has the experience and capacity to handle most of their disaster operations without outside support. Local Red Cross organizations only request assistance when a disaster exceeds their capacity to respond.
And the Red Cross help is not limited to disaster relief; we do other types of humanitarian work with a global impact as well. There are many opportunities for you to get involved, through donating, taking or teaching a class, or volunteering.
Make a Donation
Support International Disaster Relief
The most common way the American Red Cross supports international emergencies is through financial assistance, which is why making a financial donation is the most effective way you can support our international responses. Cash enables the local Red Cross organization in the affected country to identify and address the most immediate needs—such as providing food and water or repairing damaged homes. When used to purchase relief supplies, cash reduces the time and cost of delivery to affected populations. It also stimulates the local economy, which is often undermined by a disaster.
Support the Measles Initiative
This program has vaccinated more than 1 billion children worldwide, contributing to a 78% decline in measles deaths in its first eight years. You can make a $10 donation to support this effort by texting PREVENT to 90999 (see the terms and conditions) or visit MeaslesInitiative.org learn more about what we do and how you can help vaccinate an entire village with support from your friends, family, and community.
Take, Teach or Host a Class
International Humanitarian Law
The Red Cross is dedicated to educating people about and raising awareness of International Humanitarian Law. You can participate as a student or volunteer instructor. Or, for an experience that’s both entertaining and educational, organize a movie night around one of our recommended films and organize a discussion afterward. Teachers can access our Exploring Humanitarian Law curriculum for use with secondary school and university students.
Restoring Family Links
As a volunteer for the Red Cross you can help people living overseas who have been displaced by war or disaster reconnect with family members living in your community. These volunteer opportunities, like most with the Red Cross volunteer opportunities, are arranged through your local Red Cross. You can find your local Red Cross via a link at the top of each page of this website. For more information on volunteer opportunities, please visit Volunteering.
International Disaster Responders
Although many international disasters are managed and staffed by people living in the affected communities, the American Red Cross remains ready to respond when needed. Volunteers with exceptional technical skills, Red Cross knowledge and disaster relief experience (which often comes from volunteering with a local Red Cross chapter) can apply to become part of our international disaster response roster. These responders are deployed worldwide in a variety of capacities alongside local Red Cross organizations, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Learn more about becoming an international disaster responder.
Learn more about our work with communities affected by the recent earthquakes in Nepal.