San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Who Funds Red Cross? What Does It Do?

“I was telling my husband that emergency services are provided by the Red Cross in Costa Rica, and he told me that was not possible. Could you tell me who finances the Costa Rican Red Cross?”

Alice Allmon

Warner Robins, Georgia, USA

As in other countries, the Red Cross in Costa Rica is a private organization, but here it serves a public function as a first responder in emergency situations, as there is no state/public emergency system.

If the Red Cross were not around to respond to emergencies, “there would be no one else who would do it,” said the organization’s chief press officer, Noamy Coto.

When someone calls 911, the operator will forward the message to the police, fire department or Red Cross office in the region.

Private companies are not typically on this call list, Coto said. They are used more for preventive care and rarely respond to an emergency, be it a car accident, fire or other medical emergency.

The Red Cross in Costa Rica boasts 4,000 volunteers and a paid staff of 1,000. All first responders have medical training.

Financing comes mostly through private funds, Coto said. Roughly 75 percent flows from sources such as Tico Bingo, the distribution of telephone guides, and Red Cross-organized raffles, to name a few.

The other 25 percent of funds is covered by the national budget.

International donations are infrequent. When they do filter into the country, they are usually earmarked for a specific project, Coto explained. Red Cross in Costa Rica performs the role of fund administrator in those occasions.


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