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The devastation in Houston was terribly sad.
So, in its own way, was the philanthropic response, particularly from business.
Big brands including Amazon, Apple, Google, Starbucks, Walmart and many more are making donations to the American Red Cross, and encouraging their customers to do the same.
If you haven’t paid attention to the travails of the American Red Cross, please scroll through this series of 17 tweets from Pro Publica linking to deeply-reported stories about how the Red Cross botched its responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, raised $500m for Haiti and accomplished little, stumbled when trying to help flood victims in Louisiana and Mississippi and, worst of all, misled donors and Congress and anyone else who asked about its work. It’s not just Pro Publica who’s been critical. Jonathan M. Katz, a former AP bureau chief in Haiti and the author of an acclaimed book, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, has a fine story at Slate headlined Don’t Give $20 to the Red Cross. A New York Times editorial said of the American Red Cross:
Its record on large-scale operations is spotty, and given the enormous amount it collects from Americans, the scope of its ambitions and the fact that a chunk of its budget comes from government agencies, there has been less accountability than Americans might expect emanating from its grand marble headquarters in Washington.
Doing charity right isn’t easy. It requires the head as well as the heart. That’s especially the case when the charity is coming from corporate foundations or publicly-traded companies that ought to know better — and surely do.
Marc Gunther is a journalist writing about philanthropy, nonprofits and global development at Nonprofit Chronicles.