How much of charity donations actually go to fire victims?

by: Amy Clancy Updated:


When KIRO 7’s Facebook page posted information on how people could donate money to Washington wildfire relief through the American Red Cross, one follower complained about the "overhead" of the Red Cross. Another claimed that “most” of all donation money "goes to administration."

But that’s not true.

The American Red Cross donates 91 cents of every dollar to relief.  The Better Business Bureau recommends giving to any charity that donates 65 cents or more.

The Red Cross has been in fire-ravaged central Washington for a week, setting up and staffing 11 shelters and delivering more than 3,000 meals to fire victims.  Red Cross staffers and volunteers will be in the area, offering aid, for weeks -- if not months.

Colin Downey, director of communications for the Western Washington Chapters of the American Red Cross, said donations can be targeted to specific areas. 

“We do honor intent,” Downy said. “So if people want it to be spent on this particular disaster, we take that very seriously.”

But donors are getting more creative in how they give.  One woman posted to KIRO 7's Facebook page a link to a page to benefit a family member who lost her home and all belongings near Twisp.

More than $5,000 has been raised in just two days.  However, donors should know that automatically deducts a 5 percent fee from all donations.

Matt Horey of Woodinville promises that all of the money he raises will go to fire victims in Pateros Horey lives in Woodinville but owns a destroyed home in the Methow Valley, and multiple businesses in Pateros.

On Monday, Horey set up the Pateros Catastrophe Fund.  Cash donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank branch. 

“A hundred percent goes to the local victims” of Pateros, Horey told KIRO 7. His fund will give priority to families with small children and the elderly who have lost their homes. 

“I love that place,” Horey said. “We’re going to help the people I know need it the most.”

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