Why does the Red Cross discourage donations of collected goods and individual items for disaster relief?

  • Collections of items require valuable and scarce resources such as time, money, and personnel to sort, clean, and distribute them, which come at the expense of the emergency activities relief workers are attempting to perform. The Red Cross has neither the resources, nor the logistical set-up, to properly handle these types of donations, and therefore cannot accept them.
  • In addition, because the organization has no way of knowing what spontaneous individual donations or unsolicited collections of items will consist of, and therefore cannot ensure there will be enough of a particular item to distribute it equitably, or if the donated products will even be appropriate for the relief effort.
  • Shipping donated goods is also costly and particularly difficult in the aftermath of a disaster, as roads are often damaged or impassable, and easily clogged with shipments of non-priority items. The Red Cross makes every attempt to procure items locally to save money by minimizing transportation and storage costs.