Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the American Red Cross

Inaccuracies in the “60 Minutes” expose.

Victims of September 11 call toll-free 800-GET-INFO for assistance.


General Questions about the Liberty Funds
Questions Regarding “God Bless America”
Senator Mitchell Plan Questions
Financial/Donor Questions
Blood Questions
General Questions About the Liberty Fund

  1. I thought the money was going to those who lost loved ones, not to people who just lost their jobs or their homes. Why are you helping all these other groups?
    While those who lost loved ones or were injured are most seriously impacted, people who were displaced and economically-impacted in the disaster area in Manhattan–and the emergency personnel who responded–also have disaster-caused needs. Helping these victims in this way is consistent with the Red Cross mission and with our Congressional Charter — to provide relief to victims of disaster.
  2. When was economic assistance stopped for people who lost employment or housing?
    The United Services Group (USG) set March 8, 2002 as the application deadline for individuals seeking financial assistance who worked below Canal Street as of September 11, 2001 and lost their jobs or suffered severe income loss. The USG set the deadline because disaster relief charities like the Red Cross are meant to provide emergency assistance, not to supplement income. We have provided that assistance for 6 months and the city of NY has sufficient, long-term community resources available. The USG, its member organizations and key government agencies are coordinating additional services, such as job training, placement and counseling, to assist with long-term needs. This deadline does not apply to families of the deceased or to those who lost their residences.
  3. Will you continue to give financial assistance to the families who are already eligible for large amounts of financial assistance from other resources?
    The Red Cross is honoring the intent of the donors who made contributions to the Liberty Fund with the expectation that the monies would support families affected by the attacks. Since the needs are great, assistance is appropriate.
  4. Exactly who is eligible to receive assistance?
    We will help families who lost loved ones in the September 11 tragedy. We will help the rescue and recovery workers. We will help people who were displaced or who lost their livelihoods as a result of the attacks. And, on a case-by-case basis, we will help others who were affected by the tragedies and need our assistance.
  5. Is the Red Cross working with other September 11th-related organizations to make sure all needs are met and to prevent fraud?
    The American Red Cross is in constant collaboration with representatives from other charities, non-profits and service groups. The American Red Cross is a founding member of the 9-11 United Services Group and will continue to work to define the agencies best suited to meet the disaster-caused needs of individuals or groups. Operators at our toll free 24/7 assistance hotline, 1-866-GET-INFO can also provide information to individuals who have needs that fall outside Red Cross services.
  6. Is the Red Cross prepared to respond to further chemical, biological or terrorist attacks?
    While supporting the families of victims from September 11 and responding to numerous other disasters, we’ve bolstered our entire organization to be equipped and prepared for any disaster. We have conducted training on how to respond to biological and chemical attacks and, while there is more to be done, we feel that we are prepared. The Red Cross had been coordinating preparedness with a number of agencies through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for many months prior.
  7. Some Oklahoma City victims have complained that they got a lot less from private charities and the government and yet they were victims of terrorism, too? Should they have been treated the same as the 9/11 victims?
    Each and every disaster is unique in its own way, so it is hard to provide the same help to the victims of all disasters. The Red Cross did treat 9/11 differently because former President Healy set up a special fund instead of using our customary Disaster Fund. In general, however, our mission is twofold: meet the immediate disaster needs on site, and then provide additional assistance as needed based on assessments of the families affected. That agenda was accomplished in both disasters.

Financial/Donor Questions

  1. Are Red Cross Chapters audited?
    All chapters are required to have an independent annual financial review. Any chapter over $100,000 in annual revenue is required to have an external audit.
    The 126 largest chapters must send quarterly financial reports to the national Red Cross.
    The internal audit unit of Red Cross does regular audits of chapters. This year, they will audit 140 audits.
    Chapters also have to meet specific national guidelines to maintain their charters every 5 years or they will lose their charter and ability to operate as the Red Cross.

  2. Why does the balance of the Liberty Fund continue to grow?
    The Red Cross stopped soliciting donations to the Liberty Fund on October 31, 2001. However, contributions from individuals and corporations have continued to come in, and those that are specifically designated are deposited into the Fund, in keeping with the Red Cross commitment to honor donor intent.
  3. What is the Red Cross policy regarding returning donations?
    This is a standing policy that was in place long before September 11th. If people have questions regarding how their donations are being used, we are happy to walk them through the process. Though we get very few such requests, in most cases, after speaking with the donor, their questions are usually resolved. If, after an explanation, a donor is still interested in a refund, then we will honor their request.
  4. Is the support tax-free?
    To the extent allowed by law, yes, both the initial and supplemental support is tax-free. Our intent is to provide families with the help they need by working in cooperation with other relief agencies.
  5. What about overhead costs?
    Any direct support costs, such as the cost of the toll-free number to identify the victims, will be funded from the interest off the Fund to the extent possible. The rest will come from the Liberty Fund. Right now these expenses are less than 5 percent of the total.
  6. Will the Liberty Fund be used for responding to future acts of terrorism, the anthrax cases and other plane crashes?
    No. The American Red Cross, for many years, has had a General Disaster Relief Fund that was created for disasters of any kind, including future acts of terrorism. The focus of the Liberty Fund is September 11.
    BACK TO TOPBlood Questions
  7. Why did the Red Cross continue to accept blood donations when other collectors had stopped?
    The Red Cross is the only national blood system. Our focus must be on a level that ensures the nation’s needs are met. On the afternoon of September 11 and the days that followed, no one could predict whether additional tragedies would occur or the amount of red cells needed at a moment’s notice to respond to such tragedies. Therefore, the American Red Cross – as the only national blood system — continued to collect blood from generous donors to ensure an adequate, national supply for any circumstance. In fact the government warned the nation of additional terrorist activities; therefore we prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. This represents the price of preparedness.
  8. How much did your collections rise during the month of September?
    During the month of September 2001, the Red Cross collected about 33% more than what had been projected.
  9. Can you explain the use of excess red blood cells?
    If the focus is just on red cells, a small percentage of the red cells collected around September 11th were not ultimately used. About 3% of the leukoreduced red cells from this period were not used prior to their 42-day expiration, and around 5% of all red cells collected did not meet manufacturing specifications when tested. To give this 3% “outdate” rate some context, we normally experience an outdate rate of less than 2%. It is vital to note that an ample supply is far better than an inadequate supply, and we certainly would not have wanted to be in a position of not having enough red cells for immediate use had additional attacks occurred.


Senator Mitchell Plan Questions

  1. What is Senator Mitchell’s role with the American Red Cross?
    Senator Mitchell has agreed to help the American Red Cross by overseeing the long-term distribution of the Liberty Fund. He will continue to do so for another year. Senator Mitchell has been meeting with donors, victims, charities, support groups, New York City government and Elliot Spitzer. Senator Mitchell works for the American Red Cross as a volunteer.
  2. In the plan, what is the difference between financial assistance, immediate disaster relief, and fund stewardship?
    Financial assistance is direct cash grants to the families who lost a loved one, the injured, those who lost their homes because of the attacks and those who lost jobs or income in the immediate proximity of the World Trade Center. ($240 million) Red Cross will also be providing long-term disaster relief services, support, and referrals to the aforementioned groups and rescue workers. ($80 million)
    Immediate disaster relief is the on-site cost of running a disaster relief operation including meals, mental health and support to people affected by the disaster. This includes the costs incurred by relief workers (travel and maintenance), running a 24-hour-day call center, and service centers in New York City. ($25 million)
    Fund stewardship includes accounting, auditing and contribution processing. ($15 million) To the extent possible, fund stewardship will be covered through interest earned on Liberty Fund monies. The Red Cross estimates that only 4 percent of the Liberty Fund will be required to cover the remainder of these costs.
  3. What do you mean by long-term assistance and why have you allocated $80 million to this purpose?
    Long-term assistance is designed to meet primarily mental health and health needs that may not be present within the first 12-18 months following the disaster but are directly related to the disaster. An often overlooked population affected by tragic disasters like 9-11 are those who responded to the scene and offered assistance with the rescue and recovery efforts. Returning to ‘normal’ work and family conditions causes new emotional stress which is less recognized by employers and supervisors. Almost seven years later, rescue and recovery workers who responded in Oklahoma City are turning to the Red Cross for assistance with their emotional, marital and substance abuse problems. Assistance also continues to those with protracted medical treatments resulting from injuries as a result of the blast.
  4. Will there be cash disbursements after 2002?
    No, the Family Gift Program was designed to help families through the first year following the disaster. All supplemental assistance will be disbursed by the end of 2002. The mission of the American Red Cross is to help meet the immediate disaster-caused needs.
  5. The $850 million outlined in the Mitchell plan has been surpassed due to continued donations to the Fund. How will the rest of the money get spent?
    Under Senator Mitchell’s continued guidance, the money will be split up between long-term, immediate disaster and family gift programs.
  6. When will we get the next update on how you are spending the money?
    Senator Mitchell has promised a quarterly financial report on the disbursement of funds. Weekly postings will continue on (available by clicking “Your Donations At Work”). These reports detail the amount raised and spent as well as outline our programs and services.
  7. Can you explain more clearly how your efforts are managed? Does Mitchell work with the NY Chapter or National Red Cross?
    It is a coordinated effort. The Liberty Fund is managed nationally, and Senator Mitchell works for the American Red Cross as a volunteer. But much of the implementation of many Liberty Fund programs, the infrastructure needed to support many of the services, and the consultation with families and other charities is led by the New York Chapter of the Red Cross.
  8. Why did Mitchell get involved?
    Senator Mitchell’s involvement is a reflection of our desire to do the best job we possibly can and to ensure the public that they can trust the Red Cross. Given the unprecedented scale, scope of complexity of the task, we thought that Senator Mitchell’s skills and experiences could help us do an even better job.