In the wake of the ongoing disaster in Houston, politicians, news organizations, celebrities—and even our own Dan Savage—have urged people to donate to Red Cross. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. Despite being the go-to charity whenever disaster strikes, the truth is, Red Cross is incompetent at best, evil at worst.
Take Hurricane Sandy. An investigation by ProPublica and NPR found that in the aftermath of Sandy, Red Cross was unable to provide even basic aid to those in need. Instead, they used 40 percent of available disaster relief trucks as backdrops for news conferences. From ProPublica:
According to interviews and documents, the Red Cross lacked basic supplies like food, blankets and batteries to distribute to victims in the days just after the storms. Sometimes, even when supplies were plentiful, they went to waste. In one case, the Red Cross had to throw out tens of thousands of meals because it couldn’t find the people who needed them.
Their mismanagement after the Haitian earthquake of 2010 was even more egregious: After Red Cross received a half billion dollars in donations, that money largely disappeared. In 2015, Red Cross said it used the funds to provide housing for over 130,000 Haitians, but in reality, they built all of six permanent homes. Yes, six. As for the rest of the money, 25 percent—or $125 million—was used for internal expenses.
So, don't fucking donate to Red Cross. There are plenty of actual charitable organizations on the ground in Texas doing good work. NPR has a list, or check out Global Giving, a group that vets local nonprofits and distributes funds to those that actually work.
And, for the record, Red Cross isn't the only bullshit "charity" scooping up your money and using it to line their executives' pockets. Always, always, always do your research before you give. Charity Navigator is a good place to start. If a big national organization doesn't have 4 stars, give your money to someone else.