This story was co-produced with NPR.
The American Red Cross regularly touts how responsible it is with donors’ money. “We’re very proud of the fact that 91 cents of every dollar that’s donated goes to our services,” Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern said in a speech in Baltimore last year. “That’s world class, obviously.”
McGovern has often repeated that figure, which has also appeared on the charity’s website. “I’m really proud” that overhead expenses are so low, she told a Cleveland audience in June.
The problem with that number: It isn’t true.
After inquiries by ProPublica and NPR, the Red Cross removed the statement from its website. The Red Cross said the claim was not “as clear as it could have been, and we are clarifying the language.”
The Red Cross declined repeated requests to say the actual percentage of donor dollars going to humanitarian services.
But the charity’s own financial statements show that overhead expenses are significantly more than what McGovern and other Red Cross officials have claimed.