NEW YORK — After enduring some criticism over its performance during Superstorm Sandy, the American Red Cross has agreed to make changes in the way it solicits donations after major disasters to avoid potential confusion over how that aid money is likely to be spent.
The relief organization announced an agreement with New York’s attorney general last week in which it agreed to modify the language it uses on its website in a way intended to give donors more information about whether their gifts will be used to assist victims of a particular catastrophe, or for Red Cross operations in general.
At the urging of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Red Cross agreed to omit any reference to a specific disaster on its donation page, and instead offer people the option of clicking buttons to donate either to their local Red Cross chapter, or to people “affected by disasters big and small,” or to simply send their money “where it is needed most.”
People who want to earmark their gift for a specific crisis will be directed to a mail-in form and will have to send in a check.
Those new guidelines won’t affect people who give over the phone or by text.
The Red Cross also agreed that when it is involved in fundraising drives after future big disasters, it will let the public know when the organization believes it has raised enough money for its response. That effort will include ceasing all references to the disaster in solicitations, and letting other groups know the Red Cross has all the money it needs.
That wasn’t the case after Sandy, when many well-intentioned groups ran print and television ads for months, saying the best way to help was to donate to the Red Cross. Those ads continued long after the Red Cross had stopped dedicating donations to its storm response.