We are proud that an average of 90 cents of every dollar we spend is invested in delivering care and comfort to those in need.We are proud that an average of 90 cents of every dollar we spend is invested in delivering care and comfort to those in need.
The Red Cross is proud that an average of 90 cents of every dollar we spend is invested in delivering care and comfort to those in need. The remaining 10 cents helps keep the entire Red Cross running by supporting routine, but indispensable, day-to-day business operations, which includes the enterprise-wide computer, telecommunications, volunteer management, HR and payroll systems for our approximately 19,000 employees and more than 300,000 volunteers, as well as fundraising, communications and other support services.
Behind the Numbers
While the ratio varies slightly from year to year, over time an average of 90 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. We calculate this average by comparing our spending on mission-related programs to our total expenses.
For example, in FY19, the Red Cross devoted 90.6 percent of our total spending to programs that delivered help and support to people in need. This was calculated by comparing program spending of $2.7 billion to total expenses of $2.9 billion.
Here’s the breakdown from our audited financial statements of our mission-related spending in FY19:
Collects more than 4.6 million blood donations and nearly 1 million platelet donations to help people who face serious injuries, surgeries, child birth, anemia, blood disorders, cancer treatments, and more
Responds to more than 60,000 disasters each year to help families recover by providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance.
Delivers training and information in first aid, CPR, water safety and other skills that help save lives to more than 4.8 million people each year.
Provides more than 471,000 services a year to support members of the armed forces, veterans and their families cope with the challenges of military service.
Helps approximately 230 million people outside of the U.S. each year with disaster support, recovery assistance or disease prevention programs.
Supports local service programs specific to individual communities including food banks, nutritional assistance for pregnant women and children, and transportation programs.
How We Compare to Other Nonprofits
At the Red Cross, we strive to be cost-conscious in everything we do, so that we can spend more on people who urgently need our services. In terms of mission-related spending and administrative expenses, the Red Cross compares favorably to other nonprofits and exceeds industry expectations.
For example, Charity Watch gives higher ratings to organizations with overhead spending of 25 percent or less; and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance uses 35 percent. Charity Navigator reports that 7 out of 10 charities they evaluate spend at least 75 percent of their budget on programs and services – leaving about 25 percent for administrative expenses. In addition, a 2018 study by Grey Matter Research found that the average donor considers 19 percent as a reasonable ceiling for overhead spending.
Our Commitment to Transparency
The Red Cross is proud to have earned the highest ratings for accountability and transparency from independent nonprofit watchdogs like Charity Navigator and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Both our audited financial statement and our full IRS Form 990, which discloses our revenues, expenses and all other important financial information, is accessible on our website at redcross.org/publications or other public sites such as Guidestar.