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. These operations include the enterprise-wide computer, telecommunications, volunteer management, HR and payroll systems for our more than 17,000 employees and nearly 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 fiscal year 2021, the Red Cross devoted 91% of our total spending to programs that delivered help and support to people in need. This was calculated by comparing program spending of $2.58 billion to total expenses of $2.83 billion.
Here’s the breakdown from our audited financial statements of our mission-related spending in FY21:
Collects more than 4.5 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 4.6 million people each year.
Helps nearly 210 million people outside of the U.S. each year with disaster services or disease prevention programs.
Provides nearly 550,000 services a year to support members of the armed forces, veterans and their families cope with the challenges of military service.
Supports local service programs specific to individual communities.
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.
One of the leading watchdog organizations, Charity Navigator, gives the Red Cross its highest rating — four stars — for accountability and transparency, and three out of four stars overall. Charity Navigator reports that seven out of 10 charities they evaluate spend at least 75% of their budget on programs and services — leaving about 25% for administrative expenses. In addition, a 2018 study by Grey Matter Research found that the average donor considers 19% 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, are accessible on our website at redcross.org/publications or other public sites such as GuideStar.