Many non-governmental agencies across the globe have clear, distinctive purpose, competencies, missions, abilities and use of varying operation procedures. Most of these organizations have a religious background, technical specializations, regional outlook, or just community based to focus on the welfare of the said people (Egan and Thanousone 06). The NGOs range from minor local entities to giant multinational firms with secretariats in many parts of the world. Examples of such major nonprofit institutions include the Red Cross, Doctors without borders, Human Rights Watch, World Food Program, UNICEF, Save The Children, World Wild Fund, and many others. The Red Cross is a humanitarian society which has built an enviable reputation worldwide in its endeavor to alleviate pain and sufferings to those affected by natural disasters, wars, and accidents (Jones 19).
The organization offers shelter, food and other necessary assistance the victims may need in order to rebuild their lives again. The firm is so strategic and well spread that they are usually the first individuals to appear in places where people need help, even ahead of the armed forces and police who have great intelligence and infrastructure, winning many people’s hearts and support. The Red Cross has relied mainly on donations since it is a non-profit making entity, with many governments they entities work under not guaranteeing consistent support despite the crucial functions they undertake. However, this paper will be seeking to look at the leadership structure and roles of the American National Red Cross, which was started over a century ago and has undergone various leadership transformations to date.
The American Red Cross was started on May 21st, 1881 by Clara Barton and several others and has since been offering humanitarian assistance to many Americans annually. The American Red Cross’ mission statement is to alleviate and prevent human suffering during emergencies by tapping into the potential of volunteers and the unwavering, unquestionable generosity of the donors who support the firm financially. On the same light, the organization’s vision statement implies that through the dedicated volunteering, donor’s generosity and the partnering networks the firms trained workers are always present to serve mankind in the times they need assistance is to imply that the agency wishes to change people’s compassion into action that equips the communities with necessary preparedness for disasters. That The United States alone records about 70,000 cases of fires, mass shootings, natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, tragic accidents, and many others (Egan and Thanousone 02). Once a calamity strikes anywhere in the United States, it is in the subconscious mind of almost every individual that a member of the Red Cross will appear out of the blues with food rations, medical aid, temporary shelters, clothing, among other basic necessities.
The firm has also been tasked with the role of collecting and storing blood donations needed by victims of such scenarios, which is one front that has proved the efficiency and usefulness of the organization. History of the Formation of the American National Red CrossIn over 130 years of existence since its inception, the agency has also encountered various hurdles which have threatened its existence, most of them targeting it’s rudimentary organizational and leadership structures. Other areas of concern have also been financial accountability, segregation and racial prejudice, reporting of its relief undertakings, and several other crucial areas (Jones 33). However, the American National Red Cross has been able to withstand all these adversities, coming out stronger every time. This has been realized through the various reforms and changes in its leadership and organizational structure since it was first founded by Clara Barton and her fellow leaders.
Barton’s earlier life is thought to have been the inspiration behind her starting of the Red Cross. She suffered prejudice and gender inequalities in her place of work, severally being demoted and retrenched in the various government ministries she served. She was residing in Washington when President Lincoln requested the army to protect the State. The 6th Massachusetts’s army was attacked in their transit through Baltimore, and Barton was among those who nursed the soldiers upon reaching the city. This is where her interest to take care of the injured rose, and developed ties with the military due to her contributions.
Her hard work and commitment were recognized when she was given the nod to accompany the military in battlefront lines to take care of the wounded and sick, which had all along barred women from such endeavors (Egan and Thanousone 19). She became a renowned national speaker after the war and was on the frontline campaigning against the inhumane treatment of slaves and the freedmen in America.Barton’s first attempts at seeking the president’s approval to form an organization to serve the needy, sick and wounded gained a positive response when her ideas were tabled in the Congress and came to fruition when President James Garfield endorsed the Red Cross movement.
It was first called the American Association of the Red Cross with several objectives including the securing of the Geneva Convention by the United States government, to achieve official recognition by the government, to organize systems of national relief and several other noble motives (Jones 62). It began as a tiny, nonprofit firm based in Washington DC when Barton Clara and about fifty renowned public figures adopted the first constitution. The articles of incorporations and the constitution required an executive board be established, termed as the ‘board of consultation’ which comprised of the US president, relevant government ministers and the movement’s leadership which consisted a president, a deputy, a treasurer and a secretary. One year after being established, and after the US became a member of the Geneva Convention, the Red Cross movement drafted another constitution that spelled out a new governance structure.
The constitution established an 11 member committee whose sole mandate was advisory and a three-member central committee which comprised of the president of the movement, the treasurer, and secretary who formed the secretariat (Jones 77). The three-member committee was responsible for conducting day to day activities of the group. The following decade involved efforts to obtain a congressional charter, and in 1893 the movement changed its name to the American National Red Cross so as to emphasize the national scope of its mandate. The 1900 charter came in hot pursuit as the Congress sought to reward the contributions of the organization, establishing it as a national institution with the ability to fast-track the Geneva Convention and officially conduct functions as stipulated by its constitution. The subsequent 1905 charter made efforts to place the Red Cross under government supervision since its roles were vital, naming a sixty-five member board of incorporators (Egan and Thanousone 23). Fifteen of them were to be appointed by the US president. The charter also created an 18 member central committee, one of whom was to be designated by the president of the US as the chairman of the Red Cross. Other reforms have been instituted by the organization to date, which includes the Harriman Report and the Sarbanes- Oxley Act of 2002.
The figure below is a simple representation of the current leadership structure of the Red Cross, from the most supreme to the least.[image: C:\Users\samsung\Documents\red-cross-organizational-chart_192983.png] As indicated above, the Red Cross is governed by the Chairman of the board of directors, who are duly appointed by the President of the United States. He reports to the Board of governors who are the superior authority on the major issues of the institution and are tasked with the role of oversight and governance which at times includes management. The Harriman Report was specific in spelling out the duties of the board as supervisory and policy-making, where that charter states that the board is the “governing body of the Red Cross with all powers of managing and governing it.” Below the chairman is the chief executive officer CEO and the president, who is appointed by the board of Governors. The two are responsible for the day to day operations and the strategies the organization undertakes. The kind of leadership outlined here is a system where orders mainly come from the top and spell out the departments below. However, that should not be confused to be an aristocratic style of governance.
Rather, it is a largely democratic process where the several board members come into meetings to be briefed by the chairman and the officers responsible for running the organization. Democratic leadership is a process where several people in power come to a consensus on the way forward, and sometimes voting occurs in case consent is not reached easily (Hamilton 288). Even though the majorities will prevail, the minorities concerns are also noted and worked upon to make each party’s opinions or ideas are not disregarded thus dissent. The Red Cross board of governors will not wish to dictate policies which are against those of chairman or CEO. Thus many meetings are arranged to arrive at a solution. The Chairman or CEO do not just work to communicate instructions from the board downwards they also serve to represent the issues and aspirations of the workers and volunteers working for the organization (Hamilton 287). The upward communication enhances the welfare of workers and volunteers in the field, who have a better experience of what needs to be fixed than those at the top.
Hamilton, Cheryl. Communicating for results: A guide for business and the professions. Cengage Learning, 2013.Egan, Timothy B., and Thanousone Pravongviengkham. American Red Cross: a history and analysis. Diss. Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School, 2016.Jones, Marian Moser. The American Red Cross from Clara Barton to the New Deal. JHU Press, 2012.`