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Red Cross Clarifies Donation Practices

The charity will now tell potential donors in advertising and solicitations that their money could be used for several disasters over time and not just for one particular calamity.

All of the charity’s solicitations will now include the language, “You can help the victims of [this disaster] and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need.”

The Red Cross, in announcing the change on Wednesday, said it was an effort to better explain the way the charity operates.

“One of the lessons from September 11th is that the Red Cross must do a better job of educating donors about how we fund our disaster relief services while honoring their intent,” Red Cross Chairman David McLaughlin said in a press conference.

The new program is called Donor DIRECT, which stands for Donor Intent Recognition, Confirmation and Trust.

In the past, the Red Cross has solicited donations for it’s multipurpose Disaster Relief Fund by linking fund-raising to a specific event. Donors to the Liberty Fund, set up as a special account for September 11th victims, were upset when tens of millions of dollars were planned for work unrelated to the victim’s aid such as upgrades to the charity’s telecommunications system.

Critics blamed ads for the Liberty Fund, which raised some $967 million, saying they were misleading to donors who believed they were directly helping victims of the attacks.

In addition to changing it’s solicitation message, the Red Cross will also take steps to ensure each donor is informed about it’s Disaster Relief Fund policy, acknowledge and clarify the intent of the donation and confirm that the donor still wants their donation directed to the fund if the contributions made around the time of a disaster exceed the cost of the assistance.

The reforms are scheduled to take effect on July 31.

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