Emergency appeals

When a disaster or crisis strikes, New Zealanders are keen to help. New Zealand Red Cross is committed to ensuring your donation is the most effective way you can help people in need. Not many charities have a 100% guarantee like we do.

New Zealand Red Cross is involved in so many long-term programmes and relief activities in many different places, it can be difficult to know what to donate to! By donating to our general fund - 'Where the need is greatest' - you'll know that all our programmes and services will be supported. This allows us to continue our much-needed work in all communities, helping people wherever they may be.

Our website features our most current appeals, including 'Where the need is greatest' and special appeals. You can make an immediate online donation to any of these by clicking the 'Donate' button above.

Emergency appeals - our 100% guarantee

In response to specific disasters both in New Zealand and around the world, we set up 'special appeals' such as the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal, Cyclone Pam Appeal or Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal. These appeals are usually open for 6 to 9 months.New Zealand Red Cross is one of very few charities togive 100% of donationsto our special appeals to the emergency response. This means all the money raised goes towards responding to the disaster and to the affected community. We don't take any part of donations to cover our administration and communication costs for the appeal or for any other general funding. This guarantee is unusual among humanitarian aid agencies.

Other things to note:

  • A special appeal is not opened for every national disaster, so do check with us before sending a donation.
  • Please ensure any money you collect from others for an emergency appeal is passed on to us as soon as possible, so it can be put to good use when it is needed most.
  • To donate to appeals or programmes other than those on the website, please contact us before making your donation to ensure that we can accept donations for the cause you want to support.

Why we need money and not goods

Often, in cases of disasters and conflict, people want to collect second-hand goods and send them to the affected area. This approach is not recommended by international experts. In fact, in many situations, they have found it to be damaging and detrimental to those in need.

We also support this view because:

  • Collecting, storing and shipping donated goods takes time. Often, by the time the goods are sent, the emergency relief phase is over and priorities have changed.
  • Unsolicited or unwanted aid, especially containers, can clog up ports and logistics chains. This creates delays, distracting relief staff and resources from more important tasks. This is widely known as the "second disaster". It also means Red Cross is left with large quantities of unneeded goods, sometimes at great cost.
  • An effective way to aid recovery is by restoring livelihoods and local economic activity. Where we can, we source emergency relief goods locally. Importing items can damage local retailers and affect market prices, especially in poorer communities.
  • Years of experience have taught us what emergency aid is needed during a disaster or conflict. We store large quantities of these items in warehouses throughout the world. Across the Pacific, for example, we have more than 80 containers stocked with brand new, standardised items. These are ready to distribute within hours of a disaster. This system means everyone in an affected community gets the same, high-quality items.

Communities recover faster when we source goods locally and use internationally-recognised relief items. This is why we ask for cash instead of goods. Cash is also easier to collect, transfer, distribute and account for.

Why we don't send volunteers overseas

We know people want to help after a disaster. Volunteering to go overseas might seem like the most logical thing to do. However, this isn't the best way of getting help where it's needed.

After a disaster, there is a lot of pressure on already-limited resources and infrastructure. Sending volunteers, even if they have useful skills, isn’t the best thing to do. At Red Cross, we deploy highly-trained experts to help in disaster and conflict situations. Our aid workers undertake extensive training to ensure they understand complex post-disaster situations. This means they have the skills needed to work in challenging emergency environments.

As the world’s largest humanitarian network, Red Cross often has volunteers in the affected community. These local volunteers have the advantage of speaking the language and understanding the culture. Our aid workers work closely with these volunteers to provide help how and where it’s needed most.

Our approach saves vital time and money. By donating to Red Cross, you can ensure local communities get help in the most effective way.

Interested in becoming an aid worker? We’d like to hear from you.