Apple and Others Help Customers Donate to the Red Cross, And Only the Red Cross
The American Red Cross organization is notoriously incompetent and channels money to publicity whenever possible—so why are they given such a boost? Possibly because they channel money to publicity whenever possible, so that the companies get publicity by association. Derek Kravitz reports for ProPublica:
This month’s epic flooding in Louisiana, which destroyed roughly 60,000 homes, is the worst natural disaster in the United States since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. And just likeafter Sandy and other disasters, local officials have been troubled by the Red Cross’ response.
Louisiana’s governor has been so concerned by the charity’s relief work that a spokesman said even amidst improvements, the state plans to “reevaluate its partnership” with the organization.
But that hasn’t dissuaded Apple, Amazon and T-Mobile from soliciting flood relief donations on behalf of the charity, and, indeed, making the charity the exclusive conduit for giving.
Apple has links on its website, iTunes and App Store allowing users to directly donate to the Red Cross. U.S. Bank has a similar set-up for direct donation using its nearly 5,000 ATMs in two dozen states. T-Mobile allows its customers to donate by texting the word “LAFLOODS” to a five-digit number called a shortcode. Brooks Brothers promises to match customers’ donations to the Red Cross, using the clothier’s Golden Fleece Foundation.
In each case, the Red Cross is the only charity offered as a way to help. [I wonder if Red Cross paid for the exclusivity. – LG]
The exclusive solicitations are problematic, said Doug White, the former director of the nonprofit management program at Columbia University. “They promote the idea that the Red Cross is America’s charity and the go-to place for disasters despite its history of fumbles.”
None of the companies gets any money from the arrangements. But they do benefit by being seen as companies that care. The Red Cross is one of the country’s most recognized and venerable charities. “It speaks to what type of message these corporations want to convey,” said White. “It’s about branding and image.”
Apple and others have long-standing relationships with the Red Cross. Apple, for instance, deployed one-click donation buttons after several disasters, such as last year’s earthquake in Nepal.
Apple’s exclusive arrangement with the Red Cross is particularly notable since the world’s largest tech company has strict guidelines barring nonprofits from collecting donations inside iOS apps. All donations must be handled in a web browser outside the app or via text messages. This is part of Apple’s “required user experience,” it tells developers. (The latest version of ProPublica’s iOS app was initially rejected by Apple’s App Store review team earlier this year because it had a native button allowing people to donate to us.)
Apple declined to comment on the special status it gives the Red Cross. . .
Later in the article:
. . . The Red Cross has suffered steep declines in charitable giving over the past year. A joint investigation by ProPublica and NPR starting in 2014 showed the charity has bungled relief efforts after major disasters, failing to deliver on promises made after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and again after Sandy. In some cases, the Red Cross lacked basic supplies, even while championing its own work, and ended up giving donated money to other relief groups.
Similar problems have surfaced in its more recent disaster relief efforts. In the first 10 days after flooding began, it received roughly $7.8 million in donations and pledges, according to the Red Cross, far short of its $35 million to $40 million estimate for its ongoing relief efforts. . . .