Menu

Church donates $7.35 million to American Red Cross, signs new memorandum of understanding

‘The reason our [collaboration] has staying power is because we share so many common values — humanitarian spirit, a call to serve, building trust,’ says incoming American Red Cross CEO of working with the Church

After decades of collaboration on disaster relief, preparedness efforts and blood-donation support with the American Red Cross, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated $7.35 million to the organization on Thursday, March 21.

During the meeting at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, leaders of both organizations also signed a new Memorandum of Understanding — further solidifying their long-standing collaboration.

“This is a very, very generous gift. I’m incredibly pleased and touched,” said Cliff Holtz, who will take the helm as American Red Cross CEO on July 1, in a press release posted on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. “The reason our [collaboration] has staying power is because we share so many common values — humanitarian spirit, a call to serve, building trust. This is special in so many ways, and it’s not just because of a check. It’s because of the volunteer work that you do.”

The donation will help purchase blood equipment and biomedical emergency vehicles and will assist with blood-donor engagement initiatives and support for patients with sickle cell disease, according to the press release. The memorandum — the fifth since an initial agreement in 2005 — streamlines disaster-response efforts by reducing service redundancies, designates Church buildings as potential shelters and enhances coordinated disaster planning through joint training and drills.

“It’s a special day for us to acknowledge the relationship that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has with the American Red Cross,” said Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric. “We know that because of that collaboration and that teamwork, millions of lives have been blessed in some form or another. I’m sure in the future there will be other opportunities to collaborate to serve together to bless millions of lives.”

Bishop Waddell was joined at Thursday’s event by the Relief Society general presidency: Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson and her counselors, Sister J. Anette Dennis and Sister Kristin M. Yee.

The continued collaboration between the Church and the Red Cross aligns with both organizations’ mutual dedication to service and helping those in need, said Heidi Ruster, CEO of the American Red Cross Utah/Nevada Region, in a statement published by the American Red Cross. “Together, we can broaden our impact and make a significant difference in the lives of individuals affected by emergencies.”

Ruster highlighted the vital role of volunteers and partners, stating, “The mission of the American Red Cross is realized daily through the generosity of volunteers and partners like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” She said that many Church members volunteer for the Red Cross, offering support for those affected by natural disasters.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric greets Tricia Herbst of the American Red Cross at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, prior to the Church announcing a donation to the American Red Cross and signing a memorandum of understanding of continued close association on Thursday, March 21, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Continued collaboration

The Church of Jesus Christ and the American Red Cross have shared a connection since the late 1800s. Back then, American Red Cross founder Clara Barton and Emmeline B. Wells of the Relief Society began corresponding about humanitarian aid during the Spanish-American War.

Besides volunteers, the Church has provided annual financial contributions to the Red Cross. “This funding enables the delivery of essential services such as shelter, food and emotional support,” according to the Red Cross. “Additionally, the Church donates in-kind relief supplies, including kits with essentials such as hygiene items given to those affected by disasters.”

In addition, the Church of Jesus Christ — which hosted its first blood drive almost 30 years ago — is the largest single contributor to Red Cross blood drives, according to the Red Cross. Annually, Church members donate approximately 97,000 units of blood across thousands of drives. In the past three decades, the American Red Cross has collected more than 1 million units through some 37,000 drives hosted by the Church.

In 2023, the Church made a substantial donation of $8.7 million, aiding in the acquisition of biomedical equipment and the support of programs for individuals battling cancer or sickle cell disease.

Sister J. Anette Dennis, left, and Sister Kristin M. Yee, center, of the Relief Society General Presidency visit with Tricia Herbst of the American Red Cross in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 21, 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Caring for those in need

Hours before meeting with the Red Cross, the Church released its “Caring for Those in Need 2023 Summary” — detailing that last year Latter-day Saints engaged in 4,119 humanitarian projects in 191 countries and territories, with 6.2 million hours of volunteer work and $1.36 billion in expenditures.

An introduction from the First Presidency said Church leaders are humbled to share the summary of the Church’s efforts to continue the sacred work of caring for those in need.

“As we seek to show our love for God, our hearts naturally turn toward the well-being of others,” wrote President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring. “Christ Himself set the example of loving our neighbor as He healed the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked and cared for the vulnerable.”

Related Stories
Church gives $1.36 billion to care for those in need during 2023, annual summary outlines
The Church’s efforts to improve nutrition for women and children, one by one
Newsletters
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed