Major Changes at American Red Cross – two perspectives

The Diva has two readers who have commented on the the recent major changes at the Red Cross.

See Joseph Martin’s posting in his blog. Joseph is an active volunteer in the Dallas area. His blog is titled: The American Red Cross Embraces the Disaster Cycle and Resilience;

Jono Anzalone works for the Red Cross; he is Division Disaster Executive, North Central Division (ID, MT, ND, SD, MN, WI, IL, NE, IA, KS, and MO) His comments are here:

 Clara Barton said it best; “I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”   The Red Cross is continually working to improve the way we deliver our mission.  Beginning in 2012, we began an extensive effort to reassess and revise how we help people affected by disasters, gathering feedback from clients, volunteer, staff, government, non-government partners, and donors.

This resulted in the Red Cross taking steps to make our services more consistent across the country, putting more decisions in the hands of front-line workers who are closest to the people we serve, recruiting more volunteers and helping people and communities become better prepared.  It’s important to know that our basic Red Cross services are not changing; but we are making improvements to deliver them more efficiently and effectively in order to make the best use of our donor dollars.

Below are several principles we built re-engineering around, noting that our entire paradigm is based on client, then process, and finally, structure.  The results of re-engineering were budget neutral (i.e. no reduction in total disaster workforce), and overall, will push power to the edges; in the hands of those closest to the client.

We’re standardizing Red Cross services so they are more consistent across the country.
•    People look to the Red Cross for help and hope after a disaster, including shelter, food, relief supplies, emotional support and longer-term assistance to help them recover.
•    Red Cross must be there for them in ways that are predictable and repeatable in every community.
•    We are developing a national model of service delivery, based on the needs of those we serve, which will be delivered at the community level.

We’re allowing more flexibility at the local level to meet local needs.
•    Local Red Cross chapters are closest to the people we serve and know their needs best.

•    Under the new structure, these front-line workers will lead the disaster response while national headquarters in Washington, D.C., supports the work on the ground and mobilizes materials and staff nationwide when required to support the local teams.
.•    This will move decision-making closer to the action and help speed up our response and its effectiveness.•    Of course, with very large-scale disasters that affect multiple communities, local leadership will be supplemented with national resources.We’re making even greater use of local volunteers in disasters.
•    To expand our capacity to respond, we must expand our pool of volunteers to be our primary workforce.

•    We will also focus on using more local volunteers, which will help reduce travel time and costs.

•    Our goal is to create a better volunteer experience by matching the experiences of today’s volunteers with specific volunteer jobs, and speeding up the mobilization of volunteers—both those who are trained in advance and those who step forward for the first time during a disaster to serve their neighbors.

We’re building more resilient communities.
•    To help people affected by disasters, we must help individuals and communities prepare before disaster strikes. Studies have shown that $1 spent on preparedness saves $4 in response

.•    This means being active in all stages of the disaster cycle, from preparedness to response to recovery.

•    Red Cross will be a partner in building more resilient communities, whether it’s acting as a convener to help mobilize the community to deliver services, filling in the gaps, or supporting other organizations.

We will be monitoring our work to assess our progress in delivering high-quality services
•    We will measure how well these changes are working to ensure that we are delivering high-quality services. We will use specific metrics such as how long it takes to open a shelter in an affected community and the time needed for deploying volunteers to a disaster.
•    Success will be measured by the overall ability of the Red Cross to meet and exceed the expectations of our partners, volunteers, donors and the public—and most importantly, the people that we serve.

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