The Church Has Partnered with the Red Cross Nearly 100 Years

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 26 March 2015

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson speaks at the annual American Red Cross Heroes Recognition luncheon at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 12, 2015. The Church donated all net proceeds from the film Meet the Mormons, which totaled $1.8 million.  Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • The Church recently donated $1.8 million—the net proceeds from its film Meet the Mormons—to the American Red Cross.
  • The American Red Cross and the Church have worked together in varied ways for nearly 100 years.

“While we knew this was coming, we had no idea when or what the amount would be. When we did find out, it exceeded our wildest expectations.” —Heidi Ruster, CEO of the ARC Utah Region 

The Church’s recent $1.8 million donation to the American Red Cross—consisting of the net proceeds from its film Meet the Mormons—marked another key moment in the partnership between the two organizations.

For nearly 100 years, they have worked together in varied ways and in myriad projects to offer hope and relief to folks in dire need.

“When people need help, we have come together,” said Bruce Muir, the Church’s humanitarian response director.

On March 12, Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, the Church’s Presiding Bishop, presented the $1.8 million check to Cliff Holtz, president of the ARC’s humanitarian service.

The donation was made at the ARC Utah Region’s annual Heroes Recognition luncheon in Salt Lake City.

In his remarks, Bishop Stevenson said the purpose of the theatrically released movie was never to make a lot of money.

“The goal of the movie was to bring a greater understanding of who we really are and to let people know how the gospel of Jesus Christ has influenced lives in positive ways,” he said.

The 2015 heroes pose for a photo at the annual American Red Cross Heroes Recognition luncheon at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 12, 2015. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

The Red Cross teams with stake organizers in Apple Valley, California, to produce an emergency preparedness fair. Photo by Toni Robinette.

Chris Briggs, a volunteer for the American Red Cross, cleans his truck at the American Red Cross in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 2, 2012. Briggs was headed east to help Superstorm Sandy victims. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

The film exceeded commercial expectations, he added. During its opening weekend last October, Meet the Mormons earned a spot in the top 10 box office rankings. The film’s total ticket sales placed it among the top 40 revenue-producing documentaries of all time.

The film’s gross box office receipts were slightly more than $6 million, said Bishop Stevenson. Most of that money was divided among the many movie houses where the film was shown. An additional relatively small amount from the gross receipts was used by the Church to cover distribution costs—leaving the film’s net proceeds at just under $1.8 million.

Heidi Ruster, CEO of the ARC Utah Region, was humbled by the Church’s gift.

“While we knew this was coming, we had no idea when or what the amount would be,” she said in an ARC release. “When we did find out, it exceeded our wildest expectations.”

Mr. Holtz said the Meet the Mormons donation was just another generous moment in the Church’s ongoing support of the Red Cross that goes back almost a century.

During the luncheon, the Utah Chapter presented the Church with its 2015 Outstanding Community Partner Award. Sharon Eubank, the Church’s director of Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities, accepted the award on behalf of the Church.

Over the past three decades, the Church and the American Red Cross have partnered on more than 220 projects across the United States, benefiting approximately 200,000 people following emergencies. The Church has also contributed nearly $10 million in the United States for Red Cross humanitarian projects, according to the Red Cross.

The partnership between the Red Cross and the Church stretches beyond U.S. borders. The two organizations often work together in the aftermath of global disasters, including the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

During World War I, the Relief Society joined forces with the Red Cross during various fund drives, food production programs, and other services. They also collaborated in the early 1900s when more than 10,000 Relief Society sisters completed Red Cross courses in home nursing, first aid, and nutrition, according to the Red Cross.

Brother Muir also noted the Red Cross’s cooperation during countless stake-promoted blood drives hosted at Church meetinghouses.