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About Us

Mission of the American Red Cross

The mission of the American Red Cross is to improve the quality of human life; to enhance self-reliance and concern for others; and to help people avoid, prepare for, and cope with emergencies. It does this through services that are governed and directed by volunteers and are consistent with its congressional charter and the principles of the International Red Cross.

Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement

Humanity
Impartiality
Neutrality
Independence
Voluntary Service
Universality

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the American Red Cross?
A. We are the nation’s foremost volunteer emergency services organization. Our mission is to help prevent and relieve human suffering. Our nearly 2,800 chapters are located throughout the United States and its territories, and there are field stations on U. S. military installations around the world.
In all, nearly 1.2 million trained Red Cross volunteers and 23,000 paid staff members help people in their communities prevent, prepare for, and cope with emergencies. In addition, more than 4 million American Red Cross volunteer blood donors generously give over 6 million units of blood each year to help others.

Q. How is the American Red Cross funded?
A. We’re an independent, not-for-profit volunteer organization that primarily relies on people like you for support. Your time, money, and blood donations make what we do possible.
In addition to seeking individual donations, many Red Cross chapters raise funds in cooperation with their local United Way. A small percentage of Red Cross funding also comes from corporations, foundations, and government contracts or grants.

Q. How much of the money the Red Cross spends is used to help people?
A. More than 91 cents of every dollar spent by the Red Cross goes directly to helping people. The real value of every donated dollar becomes magnified by the fact that for every paid Red Cross staff person, there are approximately 50 volunteers at work in communities nationwide.

Q. How did the Red Cross get started in the United States?
A. Clara Barton founded the American Association of the Red Cross on May 21, 1881. Having voluntarily cared for soldiers during the American Civil War, she had become deeply committed to establishing an organization in the United States that would help relieve human suffering.

Q. Is the Red Cross a U.S. government agency?
A. No. The U.S. Congress chartered the American Red Cross to provide emergency-related services to members of the U.S. armed forces and disaster relief services to victims, at home and abroad. To this day, every Red Cross chapter is obligated to provide such services. But the Red Cross was at the turn of the century, and is today, an independent organization.

Q. Who runs the American Red Cross?
A. The Red Cross policy is set by volunteer leaders at both the national and the local levels. Local volunteers help determine Red Cross services and programs, basing their decisions on community needs. Paid and volunteer  staff at the national level help support local Red Cross activities by providing technical assistance, developing course materials, and giving other support-type services. An all-volunteer Board of Governors sets national Red Cross policies under which chapters across the country operate.

Q. Does the Red Cross work with other community agencies and groups?
A. Yes. Many Red Cross programs and services are specifically aimed at minorities, young people, disabled persons, the elderly, people in the workplace, and others. To reach these various groups, the Red Cross works hand-in-hand with many different organizations, including minority groups, schools, labor unions, public heath and private service organizations.
Working together makes all our jobs easier – and our lives better.

Q. Does the American Red Cross also help people who live outside the United States?
A. Yes. The people of the American Red Cross are part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement dedicated to protecting human life worldwide. This movement symbolizes the unity of all Red Cross work carried on by the International Committee of the Red Cross, League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and some 150 National societies. In addition, the American Red Cross works closely with Magen David Adom, an organization that, in Israel, provides services similar to the Red Cross. These organizations are grounded in humanitarian principles and recognized by international law and customs. They work in virtually every country to help those hurt by war, natural disasters, and other human tragedies, with no regard to political, racial, religious, or ideological differences. Through this movement, the American Red Cross has helped people in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. For example, it has sent medical teams to aid refugees of armed conflicts, assisted victims of earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters by providing money, supplies, and expertise; and raised millions of dollars to help relieve hunger.