Australians have given the Red Cross more than $3 million a day in donations, but where is it going?

Dominic Giannini 9 January 2020 60

Close up top view of young people putting their hands together. Friends with stack of hands showing unity. Photo: File.

The Red Cross has received more than $25 million in donations to the Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund since New Year’s Eve, but do you actually know where your money is being spent?

Red Cross teams are on the ground supporting people at evacuation centres and recovery hubs across NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, with funds being distributed to those who need support.

Support services include helping people prepare for an emergency, providing a safe place or helping people to take shelter, psychological first aid, information services, and practical support over the upcoming months and years it will take to recover and rebuild.

While the large majority of the team are volunteers, the Red Cross told Region Media that funds from the Disaster Relief and Recovery funds cover their costs, which include training, equipment and transport, as well as the coordination of teams in the community.

As of Monday, 6 January, the organisation had started providing emergency grants to people across Australia whose primary place of residence has been destroyed or made uninhabitable by the fires since July 2019.

The Red Cross will not deduct more than 10 per cent from the funds raised to cover administration costs, which include IT, human resources and finance teams, the organisation told Region Media.

“While it costs Red Cross more than this to support our operations, we are committed to maximising the direct use of funds generously donated for our emergency relief and recovery work,” it said.

Additionally, Register.Find.Reunite, a service that helps people find friends and loved ones after an emergency, has registered over 30,000 people and has taken more than 5,000 enquiries.

If you want to register for a grant you can visit and register your contact details. Alternatively, you can call 1800 268 772 during business hours.

If you have concerns about the condition or whereabouts of a loved one in a bushfire zone, you can visit to share details of family and friends you are worried about with the Red Cross.

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
60 Responses to Australians have given the Red Cross more than $3 million a day in donations, but where is it going?
Victoria Pennington Victoria Pennington 2:51 pm 08 Jan 20

Rhi .... so, something maybe?

Mia Rinaudo Mia Rinaudo 11:57 am 08 Jan 20

Sponsor the G spot in Canberra they are organising trucks with donations & these trucks are travelling through dangerous roads to give all donations direct to people stranded out in the rural areas view The G Spot on Facebook page & see for yourselves how Andrew Dale has done & continuously is doing for all fire affected communities they are genuine & doing the ground work directly with no admin fees whatever you donate goes directly to these people in need & they have been doing this ever since the fires started & saved a lot of people quickly they were the first to go out.

Cassandra Inkley Cassandra Inkley 10:04 am 08 Jan 20

What about all those millions raised by a celebrity comedian? Who will administer that? Where will that go to? What regulatory body watches that 40+ million?

Huge effort and amazing to see humanity come together like this but what happens to all that money now?

    Serena Rigaletti Serena Rigaletti 11:21 am 09 Jan 20

    Cassandra Inkley, the money she is raising is going directly to the NSW Rural Fire Service, it'll then be up to whoever manages NSW Rural Fire Service's funding to administer the funding.

John Hynes John Hynes 7:03 am 08 Jan 20

More of it gets to where it is supposed to go than if you went down there yourself. How about people get as motivated to see how much of the money the public service spends on work. There is a real value for money investigation I would love to see.

Melinda Parrett Melinda Parrett 11:37 pm 07 Jan 20

Local animal rescue groups are in need!

Barb Revill Barb Revill 11:28 pm 07 Jan 20

When my parents town was ravaged by bush fire, the Salvos provided most of the meals and water to firies and residents.

the Red Cross were organising donations of clothing and money to people. They also helped with temporary accommodation.

A church group set up little ‘delis’ around the burnt areas so residents could get toiletries, non-perishable food and water for about three weeks after the fire went through.

So money does get through to those in need.

Kelley Bloodrose Kelley Bloodrose 10:46 pm 07 Jan 20

Vinnies do not take administrative fees out of donations made for disasters. They explicitly state that every dollar goes to those affected.

    Morris Reinbear Morris Reinbear 12:37 am 13 Jan 20

    The admin fees come from other donations.

Wayne Palmer Wayne Palmer 9:55 pm 07 Jan 20

After the Canberra fires, Red Cross was given a huge amount of money for local support. Interesting how a new building then popped up...

Margie Dorman Margie Dorman 9:02 pm 07 Jan 20

Thanks for all this sound advice it’s great. 👏

Christine Rusan Christine Rusan 8:34 pm 07 Jan 20

Money is best going to the community who has been passing on food, drinks gift cards and supplies. I won't give a cent to big organisations. There are many Go Fund Me pages, notifications in Canberra Notice Board or Batemans Bay pages that are asking for help. Give straight to the source.

    Barb Revill Barb Revill 11:10 pm 07 Jan 20

    Christine Rusan sorry but I wouldn’t be touching a GoFund page as it’s too difficult to tell real people in need from the scammers

    Christine Rusan Christine Rusan 12:16 am 08 Jan 20

    Barb Revill I can certainly understand this. I only donate to the Go Fund pages I know are not fake.

    Natalina Ireland Natalina Ireland 2:34 pm 08 Jan 20

    Doesn't Gofund charge an admin fee or a commission?? same/same as charities that have admin costs???

    Christine Rusan Christine Rusan 9:08 pm 08 Jan 20

    Natalina Ireland it's far less. A much bigger percentage over 90% goes to the cause.

Mair Roach Mair Roach 8:12 pm 07 Jan 20

My view, you don’t get well organised disaster relief for free. There has to be administrative costs to have an organised, quick and effective response. The logistics involved in these types of disasters is immense.

Danielle Smith Danielle Smith 8:05 pm 07 Jan 20

Jody Stuart Chamberlain for your inlaws?

Kelly Salapak Kelly Salapak 7:51 pm 07 Jan 20

Red Cross website states funds used for training, for pacific nations, for other disasters and for things like IT systems and office space. I was disappointed with ABC for partnering with them as lead charity. Any donation drive for Australia or the world the Red Cross admin fees are exorbitant. I am really impressed with Vinnies, they are providing people in the bushfire areas across 3 states with the practical help they need now.

    Julia Ross Julia Ross 9:11 pm 07 Jan 20

    Kelly Salapak Vinnie's have the same advice in the small print, that the money may be used elsewhere.

    Kelly Salapak Kelly Salapak 10:44 pm 07 Jan 20

    Julia Ross we were told by Vinnies that all the funds will strictly be going to bushfire affected needs, not to administration and not to stores. Red Cross arent even necessarily keeping the funds in Australia. All very vague on how they are actually using and distributing the funds. Theyre also not stating how long it will take to pay out a request for emergency grants whereas Vinnies are stating 10 business days.

    Kelley Bloodrose Kelley Bloodrose 10:45 pm 07 Jan 20

    Their Bushfire Relief fund explicitly states every dollar donated will go directly to people affected by the fires.

    Kelly Salapak Kelly Salapak 7:11 pm 10 Jan 20

    No Political Correctness Party Australia wow didnt know that about Salvos, what have they been doing?

    Edwina Evans Edwina Evans 8:05 pm 10 Jan 20

    No, Vinnies have stated that all money raised in the Bushfire Appeal will be used in Australia on helping the victims and communities.

    Morris Reinbear Morris Reinbear 12:41 am 13 Jan 20

    Yeah, the Red Cross never does that. Not in - how many decades of work across the globe in war and peace regardless of religion and politics?

    Kelly Salapak Kelly Salapak 9:48 pm 14 Jan 20

    Morris Reinbear

Teresa BRx Teresa BRx 7:29 pm 07 Jan 20

That’s where organisations like Lions and CWA are better in local areas, and don’t take admin fees.

For Gippsland, there is also

Stacey Carpenter Stacey Carpenter 5:53 pm 07 Jan 20

The Red Cross saved me when I lost my house to flooding in Ireland in 2009. The volunteers were lovely, and not only did I receive replacement furniture but also money to see me through. Have nothing but good things to say about them.

Sally Tregellas Wodzinska Sally Tregellas Wodzinska 5:20 pm 07 Jan 20

Chris article and comments fyi

    Chris Chris 7:32 pm 07 Jan 20

    Thanks I was think the other days of some others too

Julie Vey Julie Vey 5:13 pm 07 Jan 20

You can see a breakdown of how a charity spends it's money through the government regulator - the ACNC. Just search the charity register. It doesn't provide heaps of details but gives you an overview. Annual reports contain more details but it's obviously very time consuming looking these up.

Margie Dorman Margie Dorman 4:57 pm 07 Jan 20

I have to admit I’ve yet to hand my money over. It’s put aside but when is saw Pink, Nicole Kidman and James Packer donate so much on top of Celeste whoever then 2 billion from the Govt I said ‘Hang on’. How is this being managed. Do the victims actually get a cheque in the mail. I’m on watch and wait alert. 🤔

    Rhonda Maxwell Rhonda Maxwell 7:40 pm 07 Jan 20

    Billions were donated for Notre Dame when it caught fire but we're not seeing that kind of support for a country on fire.

    Margie Dorman Margie Dorman 8:45 pm 07 Jan 20

    Rhonda Maxwell You’ve missed my point. I’m concerned who is managing it.

    Suzanne Budd Suzanne Budd 7:07 am 09 Jan 20

    Margie Dorman I agree with you. Go fund me for example, money raised on there is highly taxed. It's wrong, I believe every cent should be distributed to where it was donated to without greedy pigs taking a piece of the pie.

Lisa LaMaitre Lisa LaMaitre 4:48 pm 07 Jan 20

And how much will go to the administration of their multinational organization.. I’ve been giving my money to The G Spot Canberra, Wildcare Australia Inc., Ridgeway Rural Fire Brigade, Buy A Bale and CFA (Country Fire Authority)!

    Allison Hunt Allison Hunt 9:10 pm 07 Jan 20

    Lisa LaMaitre have a look at Buy A Bale (aka Rural Aid) admin costs ... their CEO pays himself $110k for a start! Best to go with something like Burrumbuttock Hay Runners or Need for Feed

    Lisa LaMaitre Lisa LaMaitre 9:22 pm 07 Jan 20

    Allison Hunt great to know for next time! Thank you! I haven’t heard of the other two!

    Morris Reinbear Morris Reinbear 12:45 am 13 Jan 20

    Ask them how much... they're set up for exactly this situation.

Julia Ross Julia Ross 4:40 pm 07 Jan 20

The major charities have in their fine print that the money will be used for the disaster and elsewhere. The Bali bombing is point in case, hardly any went to the victims. You will never find out how much goes where, once it's in general revenue its likely to end up overseas.

What we need in these situations is a charity set up that people can be ABSOLUTELY sure that the money goes for that particular disaster. It MUST have overseers that are NOTHING to do with the major charities.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter


Search across the site