The Red Cross at a Glance


When disaster strikes anywhere around the world, the Red Cross is always among the first and biggest aid organizations to set up relief efforts. The Red Cross always finds a way to bring support staff, food aid, shelter, and medical care to areas of great need even in the most dangerous and difficult conditions imaginable. Their efforts to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina represents the largest mobilization of its kind in history.


  • The mission of the American Red Cross is to provide nonpartisan aid in times of war and peace, as well as disaster and emergency relief.
  • It was founded by Clara Barton in 1881.
  • The Red Cross is led by a staff of volunteers.
  • The American Red Cross is a private charity, and not a part of the U.S. government. It works in cooperation with government organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the United States Armed Forces.
  • The costliest disaster was the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Those events resulted in costs of almost $1 billion in disaster assistance. The most loss of life occurred during the Galveston, Texas hurricane of 1900, when 6,000 people lost their lives.
  • The Red Cross does not accept individual donations of goods in kind like food and clothing. The costs and difficulties associated with organizing, sanitizing, maintaining, and distributing those goods makes it more efficient for the Red Cross to work through cash donations from individuals. Where possible, they use vouchers to allow victims to select the most locally appropriate aid.
  • The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which values all nations equally and respects the status of all people.
  • There are almost 900 chapters of the American Red Cross in the United States.
  • Almost 25% of the Red Cross' funding comes from private donations.

In addition to providing direct aid in times of war and disaster, the American Red Cross provides regular educational, medical, and community services through its local chapters. Together, they collect and test over 7 million units of donated blood each year. In 2004, they taught 11 million Americans critical lifesaving skills like CPR and First Aid.

To help the American Red Cross bring aid to those who need it most, you can volunteer your time, make a donation, or give blood at your local chapter.