Red Cross Raised More Than $300 Million After Hurricane Sandy: How Did They Spend It?

Shady charities pop up after a disaster, and the standard advice at such times is to donate instead to established, trusted organizations like the Red Cross. Only the Red cross, which raised more than $300 million after Hurricane Sandy isn’t keen to have the world know what they spent all of that money on.

The Charities Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s office asked the Red Cross for detailed information about its fundraising and spending after the Superstorm, and the organization complied…eventually. The AG has this data, so the investigative reporters of ProPublica filed a Freedom of Information Law request to get a copy as part of their ongoing investigation of post-Sandy spending. The Red Cross asked that large portions of the document be redacted as “trade secrets.”

While one could probably make a legitimate argument that some parts of the document that describe the Red Cross’s fundraising practices or other internal information really are trade secrets, some of the requested redactions are baffling. We know this because the Attorney General’s office denied some of their requests, and the letter telling them so is public. For example, the Red Cross’s lawyers asked to have the title of one page redacted. That title consists of two lines, one of which just says “American Red Cross.”

Where did the more than $300 million go? Donors have a right to know, but the Red Cross refuses to even separate out how much money budgeted for certain expenses was spent during the disaster, and how much allocated for future efforts.

Red Cross: How We Spent Sandy Money Is a ‘Trade Secret’ [ProPublica]
Long After Sandy, Red Cross Post-Storm Spending Still a Black Box [ProPublica]

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