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Why I won't be contributing to the Red Cross anymore

 
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I'm was always uncomfortable with the fact that the Red Cross sold the blood I donate to them to hospitals. Why not just give it away? I gave it away to them, why can't they give it away to hospitals? but, what the hey, it's a generally good organization, right?

Now, I'm not so sure.

Witness this add. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I just don't like this sort of scare tactic salesmanship. It smacks of bad taste to me: it just seems creepy. I dunno. Maybe I'm nuts?
 
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"sold", yes; but they are not for profit, so it's still legit.
 
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I googled for some outfit that called me for money they other day and found reports from a couple state's attorneys that of every dollar they take in about 12-15 cents goes to the target programs. Something like 80 cents goes to the fundraisers (call-centers) they hire. Check em out before you send money.
 
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Max: Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I just don't like this sort of scare tactic salesmanship. It smacks of bad taste to me: it just seems creepy.

Could you explain why you think it's in a bad taste? Looks more like a reality check to me.

On the basis of research conducted since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other scientists conclude that there is a 70% probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake, capable of causing widespread damage, striking the San Francisco Bay region before 2030.
http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1999/fs152-99/

 
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Near where I work there a often a lot of chuggers around when the weather is nice. Chuggers (charity muggers) are those people with clipboards who try and get you to sign up to donate money as you walk past.

In principle I have nothing against charities campaigning to raise money, but these people bother me. One issue is that they are getting paid commission. I can see that it may be a good strategy for raising money, but part of me objects to a person asking me to give money to a charity at the same time as they are taking money from it.

The other reason I don't like them is the tactics they use. Rather then just asking politely, or waiting for someone to approach them, their favourite method is to step in front of someone and start a sales pitch. It's common to see people saying "sorry, no" and trying to carry on walking, but at the same time the chugger is skipping along in front of them trying to block their route and get keep their attention. To make it more annoying, there will often be several charities each with half a dozen chuggers in a very short section of a path. This means that it is common to be accosted four or five times in a space of a minute by just one or two charities.

They don't seem to realise that annoying people is not a good method of making them sympathise with the charity.
[ March 09, 2007: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]
 
Mapraputa Is
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Did some more research (= googling)

Today's event launches the campaign with a press conference and the unveiling of mobile billboards that depict what busy downtown areas might look like after being ravaged by an earthquake. The rolling campaign was built around the tagline "What do we have to do to get your attention?" and takes an aggressive approach to inciting Bay Area residents of all ages to get prepared for the next catastrophic event.

...

"When we started working on this project, it was unbelievable that all but 6% of those of us living in the Bay Area have managed to stay in a state of denial about the likelihood of a disaster," said Mark Sweeney, Group Creative Director at Riney. "Even more amazing was the fact that the Red Cross had already invested significant time and money, leveraging celebrity support and a ton of free media, to increase preparedness. The idea for this campaign really came out of the disbelief and exasperation resulting from continued denial despite all those efforts."
http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release_html_b1?release_id=223500


[ March 09, 2007: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
I'm was always uncomfortable with the fact that the Red Cross sold the blood I donate to them to hospitals. Why not just give it away? I gave it away to them, why can't they give it away to hospitals? but, what the hey, it's a generally good organization, right?



It's not like the guy who took your blood flipped it for a quick buck. Somebody has to pay for the staff, testing, transportation, storage, and distribution of that blood.
 
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Joe Ess:


It's not like the guy who took your blood flipped it for a quick buck. Somebody has to pay for the staff, testing, transportation, storage, and distribution of that blood.



If that's all they were doing, I don't see how they could post profits. The fact of the matter is the Red Cross sells what I freely give them, and they sell it as the same rate that other blood vendors[For-Profit ones] do.

More and more, I'm growing disinclined to support them: I think I'm going to start contribution directly to the hospitals.
 
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
The rolling campaign was built around the tagline "What do we have to do to get your attention?"

...the Red Cross had already invested significant time and money, leveraging celebrity support and a ton of free media, to increase preparedness. The idea for this campaign really came out of the disbelief and exasperation resulting from continued denial despite all those efforts.


Hmmm... That's interesting, because there's always a risk in using shock tactics. They might serve as a wake-up call to some people, but they will almost definitely get an adverse reaction from others. So if the Red Cross has, in fact, come up short exhausting other approaches...
[ March 09, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]
 
Joe Ess
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:

If that's all they were doing, I don't see how they could post profits.



They'll probably post a profit in years that don't have many disasters (like 2006) and take a beating in years that do (like 2004-2005). If they never posted a profit, they wouldn't last long in their "business".
I'd be curious to know what their profit is on blood. PBS says the price $100-160/pint (in 2002, subject to market factors). That seems like a bargain for a scarce product with limited-shelf life that requires a great deal of screening and specalized handlilng (seen a lot of $10 asprin here at the hospital). In any case, if they're making money, they're spending it on cookies and blankets for disaster victims, right?
Check out their finances here and compare them to other charities.
 
Mapraputa Is
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marc: Hmmm... That's interesting, because there's always a risk in using shock tactics. They might serve as a wake-up call to some people, but they will almost definitely get an adverse reaction from others.


Notice that the blog entry Max linked to is written by a Bay Area blogger and he calls the ad "awesome". I diligently checked geo location of people who commented on his entry and expressed negative reaction -- none of those whose location I could determine live in the Bay Area. But here is another positive reaction from a San Franciscian. Why I was doing that -- for one thing I suspect that locals are desensitivized to these kind of images. In 2006 we "celebrated" 100 years from the great 1906 earthquake that destroyed San Francisco, and these images were everywhere -- TV programs, museum exhibitions, book stores displays. I remember I book which had a pictures of a destroyed area on the left page and how it looks now on the right - very similar to the Red Cross ad in question. For those who doesn't read books and doesn't go to museums there were huge ad billboards with the same images... So they aren't that much shocking here.
 
marc weber
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
...Notice that the blog entry Max linked to is written by a Bay Area blogger and he calls the ad "awesome"...


Yeah, I noticed that, and it's an interesting consideration. The campaign might do well in the San Francisco area (where it's targeted), while causing negative backlash where these images evoke different reactions.

In general, fund raising works better when you make people feel good about what they're doing. If you make them feel uncomfortable, that feeling of unease remains even after they donate, because contributing doesn't erase the fear or dread. In fact, it can instill feelings of guilt or shame if people feel they haven't given enough. Also, people who felt good about contributing in the past will more likely be proactive in making future donations, while those who felt bad about the experience will just try to avoid more solicitation.
 
Mapraputa Is
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I am not sure this particular campaign is designed to collect any donation. At this photo it said:

What do we have to do to get your attention? Be prepared. Visit redcrossbayarea.org

Which address offers a free download on an emercency plan, free online training etc.
 
marc weber
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
I am not sure this particular campaign is designed to collect any donation...


Wow, then it's even more interesting!
 
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Joe Ess:


They'll probably post a profit in years that don't have many disasters (like 2006) and take a beating in years that do (like 2004-2005). If they never posted a profit, they wouldn't last long in their "business".


That's actually not true: a great many charities never post a profit, and continue their civic services just fine.

I'd be curious to know what their profit is on blood.


As would I: they're very mum about it, but my wife is a Doctor, and she's well aware of the fact that they charge as much money( or more!) for blood that I donate to them, while other, for-profit vendors charge the same amount.

PBS says the price $100-160/pint (in 2002, subject to market factors). That seems like a bargain for a scarce product with limited-shelf life that requires a great deal of screening and specialized handling


It probably does seem like a bargain, until you realize that for-profit centers are not charging any more, and that the Red Cross is posting a profit. Then, it seems like they're taking charity from you and I, and selling it.

I understand that many people are comfortable with that: but I find myself less so.


(seen a lot of $10 asprin here at the hospital). In any case, if they're making money, they're spending it on cookies and blankets for disaster victims, right? Check out their finances here and compare them to other charities.

I'm afraid not: in 2003, the Top Dog at the Red Cross(a Charity, mind you),Marsha J. Evans was pulling down almost $700,000 a year. That's part of the [cooperation cost[/i] that being lumped in their 3+ billion dollar take.

As for their efficiency: I'm afraid not so much, according to this article in Forbes
[ March 09, 2007: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]

 
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I agree with Max, unfortunately some of the biggest charities that we know have such high expenses (payroll, etc) that not much of the money goes to really help, I always check out how much of the money actually goes to the cause. Not to push any charity, But for the past 16 years I have worked and given money to the same charity that helps children with Leukemia, Cancer and Aids, and I know that over 85 cents to the dollar actually gets spent on research, and they have had success in coming out with cures that really help.

Mark
 
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I have given a lot of money to "charity" but in a different way: My preferred way.

I have given it to the person that really needed it at the time, in real time. No intermediary organization standing in between my money and the recipient.

I don't mind that only one person (well, two including the child, which makes it a family) was helped, but I could directly see the results of that help and that made me happy.
 
marc weber
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
...in 2003, the Top Dog at the Red Cross (a Charity, mind you), Marsha J. Evans was pulling down almost $700,000 a year. That's part of the cooperation cost that being lumped in their 3+ billion dollar take...


Hmmm... I expect that raising money and effectively implementing a variety of programs on that scale is no trivial matter. So I wonder if it could be argued that Evans was worth that $700,000? For example, if she were replaced by a different top dog who made "only" $150,000, might there be a decrease in fundraising and overall efficiency that would negate any savings? If their $3 billion take was reduced and/or consumed by even 1/50 of 1 percent under "budget" leadership, it seems they might be better off paying the $700,000.
[ March 10, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]
 
Max Habibi
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Except that

1. Evans lost her job for fundraising irregularities, as did the previous holder of the position, for irregularity associated with 911 fundraising: something's rotten in Denmark, methinks.

2. The $700,000/year salary was high enough to raise eyebrows, even @ Forbes.

I think you can make the argument you're hinting @, if you have supporting evidence[ i.e., contributions were statistically lower when execs were paid reasonable salaries after you isolate variables such as economic climate, etc].

But.

I don't think you can support that argument before such evidence is presented.

Further, no one is claiming that the Red Cross doesn't raise enough money: the issue is, what are they doing with that money? If they're not able to provide blood to hospitals for less money then for-profit organizations, even when the blood is given to them for free, then maybe you and I(you and me) should consider contributing directly to the hospitals.

ps - Also, I just really hate this ad campaign: it reminds me of the starving children in Africa campaigns that were so popular in the 80's. It is, essentially, emotional pornography, and it undervalues our contribution.
 
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Well, on one hand we blame FEMA, the President, God knows whom else for not being prepared for Katrina, on the other hand when we are reminded that a similar even is very likely to happen, we call it 'emotional pornography'.

I just don't get it, Max.
 
Max Habibi
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It is the responsibility of some people to be prepared for this type of event. That does not mean that we should all be watching it, all the time.

For example, the following presidents took the following steps.

President: Nixon
Danger: Category 5 Hurricane Camille (August 1969)
Area: About the same area as that affected by Katrina
Response: Nixon prepared the National Guard in advance, ordering rescue ships from Tampa, FL and Houston, TX to stand waiting along with over a thousand regular military, 24+ helicopters to assist the Coast Guard and National Guard about as soon as the hurricane passed.

President: George H. Bush (the first)
Danger: Category 5 Hurricane Andrew (August 92)
Area: Florida
Response: In the middle of a re-election campaign,
Bush ceased campaigning the day before the hurricane, went to Washington, and assembled one of the largest military forces ever mustered on U.S. soil. Seven thousand National Guard and 22,000 regular military were sent in with the necessary equipment shortly after the hurricane passed through.

President: Clinton
Danger: Category 3 Hurricane Floyd (September 1999)
Area: Virginia and Carolinas
Response: Meeting with China's president Jiang in New Zealand, Clinton immediately declared the hurricane-affected areas as federal disasters, allowing the military and National Guard to move in and help. Clinton flew home immediately, one day before the hurricane hit, to help coordinate the rescue.
 
John Dunn
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Well, on one hand we blame FEMA, the President, God knows whom else for not being prepared for Katrina, on the other hand when we are reminded that a similar even is very likely to happen, we call it 'emotional pornography'.

I just don't get it, Max.


I knew she voted for Bush... Cool. :-)
 
John Dunn
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That $700,000 might seem strange until your bosses tell you to go out and raise XXX hundreds of millions of dollars. Do you get a person who has a proven track record, a knowledge of organizations, and a nice rolodex, OR do you hire a "nice" person, who just won't get the job done, but will certainly save you a buck? The ends justify the means, for this case, in my book...
 
marc weber
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
...I don't think you can support that argument before such evidence is presented...


Right, and Evans is a poor example because of other questions about her leadership. I was just asking whether this argument might be plausible in a general sense. In other words, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss a seemingly exorbitant salary without knowing more details.
[ March 11, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]
 
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by marc weber:

Right, and Evans is a poor example because of other questions about her leadership.

[ March 11, 2007: Message edited by: marc weber ]


I'm not aware of questions about her leadership that didn't have to do with fundraising and dispersement of same.

What other problems were you refering to?
 
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