Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

The Red Cross Isn’t the Innocuous Non-profit You Thought it Was

The Red Cross Isnt the Innocuous Non-profit You Thought it Was

Did you know that the pint of blood you donated last month was sold for $150? The American Red Cross’s income last year was 3.01 billion; 14%-20% of this was spent on aid relief. The American Red Cross is not the helpful charity you might think they are. 

The Red Cross lies to potential donors about everything from executives’ salaries to the percentage of every dollar spent towards what they promised. On the Red Cross’s website, they claim that 90 cents of every dollar went to aid relief. However, when “reviewed by the news outlets, [it] ranged from 14%-26% of every dollar the Red Cross raised.” This information was quite surprising to find out, as the Red Cross gets a rating of 99 on Charity Navigator, a website that evaluates charities. If you look further into the American Red Cross, several other websites say the Red Cross is not a reputable charity. The ARC’s website boasts about their CEO’s low salary of $652,000 – however, after looking into Gail J. McGovern and ARC’s 990 forms, it says she made $103 million, which is not the $600,000 they claimed. The Red Cross’s website has other misleading numbers about their finances. According to their website, they spend $1.7 billion on biomedical services, but this is not the full story, as $900 million of that money was spent on employee salaries and benefits. Nowhere on the Red Cross website do they clarify what they mean by biomedical services. This is just a nice name they slapped on their operating budget to make it look like they are spending more money helping people than they are. 

The American Red Cross is most well known for its blood drives across America, but did you know that the Red Cross sells your blood to hospitals for a profit? The American Red Cross collected 6.57 million liters of donated blood last year. After the Red Cross collects the donated blood, they sell it to hospitals. Last year they made $731 million in profit from selling blood. In an interview, a Red Cross executive said, “Basically we’re supplying a product and selling it.” While nothing they are doing is illegal, this seems like it is unjust logic from an executive at a non-profit. Selling donated blood is not the only shocking thing about the Red Cross. In 2022, “The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the blood industry, found hundreds of violations of procedures.” Some of these include failing to report back to individuals the results of infectious disease tests, as well as discovering blood donation sites were not following the proper mandates to keep materials sterile. Lastly, the FDA found that certain Red Cross sites were not training their employees to the required level. While these might seem to be quite significant breaches in health and safety requirements, the Red Cross got away with paying a fine of 9.7 million dollars. Even after paying the fine, the problems continued. According to the FDA, “ARC has known of these continuing problems and has failed to take adequate steps to correct them.” If the Red Cross knew about these problems before, why would a measly ten million cause them to change? Turns out they didn’t change anything, as the FDA investigated the Red Cross again in 2010 and 2013, finding many of the same violations. 

Over the years, the American Red Cross has had many issues, ranging from bad responses about 9/11 to donated money going missing. After the 911 attacks, the Red Cross came under fire for collecting almost half a billion in donations and not dispatching any aid until called out for their slow response. This was not the only controversy for the Red Cross surrounding the tragedy; they were called out again for spending less than half of the money donated to help with 9/11. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross had several other incidents where employees were stealing debit cards, which were meant to be handed out to people who had their homes destroyed during the hurricane.

Additional CBS News found numerous accounts of stolen money during local fundraisers. A manager in Louisiana was found guilty of taking money from the donations and putting it in her personal bank account. A senior regional manager was caught embezzling donated money to feed his cocaine addiction. Possibly the largest account of embezzling in a charity ever was chief executive Joseph Lecowitce, who stole over one million dollars with the help of a Red Cross accountant. The Red Cross ignored blatant problems surrounding their donations, allowing money to be stolen. In 2006, congress forced them to completely overhaul their management system and be more transparent. 

The problem I see with the Red Cross is how, time and time again, they present misleading information to donors. When I think of a non-profit charity, the last thing that comes to mind is making a profit from donated materials. While the Red Cross selling blood is not illegal, I think that they should be more open about what they do with the blood. When I donated blood to the Red Cross, there was nothing to indicate that they were selling blood. It seemed like the Red Cross was merely distributing the blood to hospitals. Also, the Red Cross advertises its CEO as having a low salary, which she does not. While these examples aren’t illegal, they are bending the law and misleading donors. I think that if the Red Cross were more transparent and didn’t try to cover up their mistakes/incidents, I would be much more inclined to donate.



ABC News, “Red Cross to Charge More for Blood,” ABC News, May 23, 2001,    id=117431&page=1#:~:text=The%20typical%20pint%20of%20red,blood%20shortages%20in%20this%20country.%22. 

 “Is the American Red Cross a Good Charity? CharityWatch Weighs In.,” CharityWatch, December 1, 2001,

 Lee, Juhohn. “Here’s How the American Red Cross Makes Money from Donated Blood.” CNBC, November 26, 2023. 

 Staver, Anna. “Fact Check: Does Red Cross Really Spend Only 9% of Its Money on Charity?” The Columbus Dispatch, February 28, 2022. 

 The American Red Cross faces organizational integrity …, accessed May 2, 2024,

 “US Blood Supply Facts,” Facts About Blood Supply In The U.S. | Red Cross Blood Services, accessed April 30, 2024,,the%20U.S.%20in%20a%20year.

 West, M.G. (no date) The American Red Cross faces organizational integrity …, The American Red Cross Faces Organizational Integrity Challenges. Available at: (Accessed: 05 April 2024). 


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Noah Markovich is a senior at Friends Select. Noah is a member of the soccer and baseball teams. This year Noah is covering technology at Friends Select for The Falcon.  

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