Why the Salvation Army beats the Red Cross.
BY MARVIN OLASKY
Sunday, November 25, 2001 12:01 a.m. EST
The American Red Cross ran up a white flag recently, surrendering to critics who had accused it of bait-and-switch fund raising by planning to hold back more than half of the $543 million it had raised for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Officials pledged that just about all of the money (minus $49 million for overhead) would go to the victims for whom it had been given. Red Cross president Bernadine Healy had already resigned from her $450,010 position, but not before suffering a tongue-lashing from Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.). Reporting that some of his constituents had driven to New York City to give the Red Cross a check, Mr. Stupak said, 'They expected that check to be used now, not two years from now.'"
"The pattern indicates a Red Cross perspective that is logical but tin-eared. Red Cross officials emphasize long-term planning rather than short-term reacting. They justifiably worry about a media-driven populace's tendency to write checks based on television coverage. They pay well, and don't see anything wrong in the CEO of a billion-dollar philanthropic outfit, who can't even receive stock options, earning big bucks.
The response of public opinion: Charities are different. They are expected to be bold and courageous, risking all like New York City firemen running into buildings when everyone else is rushing out. Leaders who play by normal business rules and pay themselves normal business salaries are stung.
Nor is this an impractical reaction. The evidence shows you don't have to be as heavily bureaucratized as the Red Cross (or the United Way, which has also been scandal-ridden) to be effective in the crunch. The $2.1 billion Salvation Army USA shows a different way to help. Peter Drucker has called the army the "most effective organization in the United States. No one even comes close to it with respect to clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication, and putting money to maximum use."
This is an eye-opening article. As we prepare and pray about starting missions at our church, information like this is valuable to me. It is so easy for us to worry about the future, when we need to be dealing with the now - God has already told us He'll take care of the future.
Please pray for the people of New Orleans. You can also pray for the churches there, and the rescue and relief workers pouring in. We here at Common Ground Church will be praying about how we can help. We're considering sending a team to New Orleans. I pray that God will guide us to His will, as he works all things for the good of those who love Him.