A Red Cross building in Washington, D.C., in 2015
Source: Getty Images

How Much Does Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern Make?

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Dec. 14 2021, Published 12:20 p.m. ET

As the country’s largest humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross has been serving people in need since 1881. Since its founding, the organization has provided disaster relief domestically and overseas, in addition to starting the first nationwide civilian blood program.

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The Red Cross has come under criticism for its governance, particularly how its funds have been deployed. In 2019, for example, viral Facebook posts gave false details about the salary of the Red Cross CEO and how its fundraising money is used. What's the Red Cross CEO’s salary today?

The current Red Cross CEO

The CEO and president of the American Red Cross is Gail J. McGovern, who has fulfilled those roles since 2008. Prior to that, she was president at Fidelity Personal Investments and executive vice president at AT&T.

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gail mcgovern
Source: Getty Images

Gail McGovern is the Red Cross CEO and president.

During McGovern’s time at the Red Cross, she has overseen relief efforts, including for hurricanes Sandy, Irma, Maria, and Harvey. She also initiated improvements to the organization’s IT systems, updating its mobile technologies and adding free apps to teach lifesaving skills to people in moments of emergency.

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What the Red Cross does

Most Americans are familiar with the Red Cross, possibly because of local blood drives or donation advertisements following natural disasters. The Red Cross manages and organizes about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply to hospitals and other medical centers. It also helps provide necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing to victims of disasters, lifesaving training such as CPR, and services to veterans.

ky tornado
Source: Getty Images

Mayfield, Ky., was devastated by tornadoes on Dec. 11, 2021.

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The false Red Cross CEO salary rumors

Viral posts on social media have circulated misleading claims about the Red Cross CEO's salary, particularly during Christmas and other holidays when people might become more generous.

When this happened in Dec. 2019, the Red Cross released a statement in response. The organization noted that the posts often referred to a past CEO, Marty J. Evans, though Gail McGovern had been in that position since 2008. The Red Cross also acknowledged that McGovern’s total salary as CEO in 2018 was $694,000, but highlighted the enormity of her duties as leader of such a large humanitarian organization.

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An important detail for Red Cross donors to understand is that CEO and other employee compensation does not come from donations given by the public. USA Today reports spokesperson Jenelle Eli explained that McGovern’s salary is paid through general operating funds.

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The organization also says an average of 90 cents of every dollar raised goes to “delivering care and comfort to those in need.” This contradicts the viral claims that only 9 cents of each dollar goes to the needy.

Tips for evaluating charities and nonprofits

People who wish to give to charity can check out watchdog websites that evaluate charities based on a number of factors. Charity Navigator and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance are two mentioned by the Red Cross itself.

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