Emergency appeal questions

Why cash is best for emergency appeals

Ukraine: information about donating

Find out how much of your donation will go to Ukraine and other information about our appeal. 

Information about donating to Ukraine

Donate to our appeal

What happens to my donation in an emergency appeal?

We don't wait around! Nearly every country in the world has a Red Cross or Red Crescent, meaning that staff and volunteers are almost always on the ground making a difference straight away after a disaster.

In support of this, we release some funds immediately, before we've even launched an emergency appeal or asked for donations. 

Where we send money within the Movement

The British Red Cross is one of over 190 Red Cross or Red Crescent societies. When there’s a major disaster, we all work together as part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC).

This collective, the IFRC, ensures that we all work together effectively, pooling our resources to make the maximum impact – this is where the British Red Cross sends most of its money following a crisis.


Deciding how the money is used

A detailed plan of action is developed, focussed on how we’re going to support vulnerable people to cope with the crisis.

Typically, this plan is for a year or even longer, and details how we’ll support people to recover and get back on their feet.


Making sure it gets spent the right way

National societies, like us, can pledge funds, and deploy teams or goods to support the plan.

We almost always deploy British Red Cross teams, who help make sure the money is spent effectively on the ground. We also work closely with country’s government, the UN and other charities.


Checking for fraud

We have a comprehensive fraud, bribery and corruption policy in place to prevent, detect and manage the risk of these in our operations, both in the UK and internationally.


Reporting back

We send people to carry out detailed reviews of the work that has taken place, to ensure money has been spent effectively and made a difference to people's lives.

These reports and reviews are all published online.

Why cash donations are better than goods  

We can't accept anything other than cash for emergency appeals. 

Many people want to donate blankets and food when disaster strikes. But giving money is the best thing you can do.

In most cases, donating items doesn't help those affected by disaster. At worst, it can slow down our ability to save lives. 

Transport costs are high for donated goods

Donated items need to be sorted, cleaned and transported.

Delivering these items means we spend more on our relief efforts. This leaves less money to help those in crisis.

Cash donations mean we can give help fast

Cash can be instantly transferred to areas where it’s needed. It can be used to buy whatever those affected by disaster need most.

This helps to rebuild communities. We can support nearby markets and traders.

In overseas emergencies, cash donations also allow us to be sensitive to local traditions and culture.


We get better value for money when we buy goods locally

When disaster strikes, we buy and source goods locally. This supports local businesses through difficult times - and it’s also more cost-effective.

On average, it costs four times more to source and buy goods here in the UK and send them overseas than it does to buy the same items locally.

Donated goods can block aid

Disaster areas are hard to reach if roads and bridges are damaged.

It’s vital that emergency teams can reach the people who need them. Roads should not be blocked by trucks carrying donations.

We know where donated money goes

Money donated to the British Red Cross stays within our Movement. We use our network to make sure help is given to the people who need our support.

We have staff at the scene during emergencies. They make sure your money is used properly.

The British Red Cross is also a member of The Cash Learning Partnership. This ensures that transfers reach the people who need them.

If you are near an area hit by disaster, specific donations can help

Are you near an area hit by disaster? Then you can help by responding to requests for specific donations from food banks and shelters. Always check first to see what they need.

Please donate any other items to a British Red Cross shop. We can sell your gift and give the money to good causes.

Can I donate medical items to emergency appeals?

We can only accept money for emergency appeals. This allows us to support the people who need our help most.

Are there other ways I can help support emergency appeals?

You could organise a fundraising event. To discuss this, please get in touch by calling us 0300 456 1005 (calls charged at standard UK landline rate). You can also email us at getfundraising@redcross.org.uk or register your interest in running a fundraising event.

Got a question about emergency appeals?

Call us:

0300 456 1155

Calls charged at your phone operator’s UK landline rate