[image: The Work of the American Red Cross During the Great War]



Chapter I


For Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919


To present a complete picture of Red Cross financial operations it is necessary to bring together figures for national headquarters (including divisions and overseas commissions) and for all chapters.

Each chapter is substantially autonomous in financial affairs. A proportion of "war-drive" contributions and of membership dues collected within its territory is retained by each chapter---the balance going to national headquarters---and it obtains other revenues through special contributions, proceeds from entertainments, sales, etc. The funds so obtained are used in operating canteens, home service work, production of relief articles and the thousand helpful local tasks that fall to the chapter.

The funds received by national headquarters finance all overseas relief work, and the important tasks carried on in the United States, such as service to soldiers in all military establishments and hospitals etc., of a nature placing them outside the field of chapter activities; also, the cost of maintaining the necessary central organization, transportation both of relief supplies and personnel, and countless similar items.

It will be clear from the above that the fields naturally covered by the two sets of figures are not generally similar, so that combined figures can be given only to a limited extent. Unlimited details can be given for each group separately.

The following table shows the revenues and expenditures of chapters and national headquarters combined for the twenty months ending February ~8, 1919, round figures being used for simplicity:

Table 1; COMBINED FINANCIAL OPERATIONS, A. R. C. AS A WHOLE, Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

In connection with this balance of $127,000,000 on hand on February 28 several things must be borne in mind, because this figure gives no indication of the greatly reduced amount which will probably be available eight months later. This is true because the cash in the hands of chapters supplied local needs during the spring and summer; and the supplies in the hands of divisions and overseas commissions represented work undertaken before February ~8 On that date they were being utilized as rapidly as possible in completing these old obligations. The $41,,000,000 unappropriated cash then in the hands of headquarters represented the only resource available for new undertakings or for carrying on the great bulk of the work for which no further financial provision had then been made; the obligations of the Red Cross committed it to continuing service in practically every line of activity, and many of these activities continued to expand for a period; indeed by the very nature of the case expenditures concerned with the return of our soldiers and the caring for the recreational needs of the sick and wounded did not reach their zenith until a somewhat later date.

Diagram 1. Disposition of the average dollar spent by the American Red Cross

The main distribution of all expenditures is indicated graphically below, on the basis of the above figures:


The growth in chapters during the war period was in keeping with the enormous growth in membership. The simple statement that on February a8, 1919, there were 3,7~4 chapters with 17,186 branches suggests the difficulties encountered in combining the accounts for this mass of units, each of which is largely autonomous in financial affairs. However, each chapter is required to make simple financial reports to national headquarters at regular intervals, and the regulations call for a periodical audit of all of their affairs by an auditing committee or outside auditor. From these sources a sufficient number of reports has been received to warrant estimates for the chapters still to be heard from. As a result of these computations, the following table is presented as covering the financial transactions of all chapters:

Table 2: CHAPTER FINANCIAL OPERATIONS (Including Branches and Auxiliaries), Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919


The financial and accounting plan applied to the affairs of national headquarters is one generally known as "the fund and appropriation system." Under this plan a number of funds exist, either under bylaw requirement or executive order, each for a specific purpose. All revenues are, on receipt, placed in the fund to which they belong. Money can be taken out of these funds only by formal act of appropriation voted by the War Council or the Executive Committee. Expenditures are made only under authorizations of this character.

Appropriations, and therefore expenditures, are classified according to funds, countries, and classes of work. However, the amounts set aside for expenditure in a certain country are not necessarily a measure of work entered into for the sole benefit of the natives of that country; for example, perhaps the larger part of the total amount appropriated for work in France benefited directly soldiers of the United States, though of course an immense amount of work was done for French soldiers, children, and refugees as well as for the nationals of other countries then located in France.

On July 1, 1917, the national headquarters had balances in relief funds aggregating $3,134,904.33. During the twenty months ending February 28, 1919, revenues aggregated $260,002,589.34, producing a total of $263,137,493.67 available for appropriation. From this amount $169,095,111.33 was appropriated, leaving balances in relief funds on February 28, 1919, aggregating $94,042,382.34- This balance, now substantially depleted by appropriations made since February 28, consisted of cash and securities $41,339,337.67, and supplies $52,703,044.67.[Note: Includes cash necessary to liquidate supply contracts.]

The general sources from which the revenues were obtained and the general classes of work for which the appropriations were made, are indicated in the following table:

Table 3: NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS FINANCIAL OPERATIONS,Twenty Months Ending February 28, 1919

The revenues quoted above are dealt with in detail in Chapter II. Expenditures are discussed in Chapters III, IV and V.

In addition to the foregoing, there should be mentioned the Endowment Funds of the Red Cross, which are controlled by a special Board of Trustees which pays over all income to the national organization. On July 1, 1917, these Funds aggregated $1,360,622.41. During the twenty months' period, revenues, including life and patron dues, gifts, legacies and interest, totaled $1,072,382.27. In the same period, income payments to the national organization amounted to $106,095.91. The balance in the Funds on February ~8, 1919, was $2,326,909.37.

The details of the fund balances of national headquarters on February 28, 1919, are given below:


The assets, or resources, composing these fund balances are indicated below:


Map 1. 3724 Red Cross chapters by States and divisions, February 28, 1919
NOTE. No attempt has been made to indicate the exact location of any chapter.

Chapter Two

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