CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While it was unusually busy because an earthquake and tsunami had hit Japan the previous day, the first day on the job last March for Angela Broome, regional CEO for the Carolina Piedmont Region of the American Red Cross, immersed her quickly in the kind of work for which the organization is known.
“The phones were ringing, with people wanting to donate or walking in the door,” she says. “Companies were calling, asking how to give products or donations from employees.”
Broome joined the Red Cross after working in the financial-services industry for 20 years, most recently as a commercial lender for First Citizens Bank, but in her last 10 years at First Citizens she also had played a broad range of roles at nonprofits, serving on boards and committees and helping to raise money.
Now, she is putting her corporate and nonprofit experience to work overseeing an organization created a year ago through the consolidation of 10 Red Cross chapters serving 14 counties.
Operating with an annual budget of $6.6 million, 50 employees and about 1,500 active volunteers, the regional organization serves roughly 70,000 people a year with emergency services, health-and-safety programs, marketing support for blood drives in the region, and services to members of the armed forces and their families.
The consolidation has resulted in initial cost reductions of over $200,000 and the elimination of roughly 12 positions, for some of which there was duplication across the 10 chapters.
“The functionalization and regionalization across the organization has really made us a much more streamlined, much more productive organization,” Broome says. “We’re looking at everything we do and saying, ‘If there’s duplication, let’s eliminate that.'”
The organization also is looking for ways to ensure consistency of service and back-office support for all its programs and operations, she says.
The Red Cross, for example, provides emergency support to roughly 700 families a year who suffer as a result of home fire or other disasters, or an average of two a day.
Yet because Red Cross chapters in wealthier counties may have had greater resources than chapters in poorer counties, the level of service may have differed.
“We want the fire clients in one county to receive the same level of service as in another,” Broome says.
The Red Cross also is working to ensure consistency in the way it works with donors and provides technology and back-office support for its offices throughout the region.
And in January it plans to launch a regional fundraising campaign that will consolidate what had been fund drives by local chapters to support the organization’s fire-response services, which can cost roughly $1,000 to $1,500 for serving a family.
“We would like to have individuals step up and support a family or multiple families in single-family house fires,” Broome says. “That is a silent disaster.”
The regional organization covers its entire operating budget through fundraising and grants, including $1.47 million from United Way, $1.8 million from corporations, $1.7 million from individuals, and $300,000 to $400,000 a year from special events.
In addition to house fires, the regional organization responded to over 660 disasters in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011; trained nearly 64,500 individuals in life-saving skills, connected nearly 1,000 members of the military and their families during times of emergency; collected nearly 95,000 units of blood; provided nearly 26,500 individuals with other community services or community-disaster education; and raised over $2 million for relief efforts from the tornadoes that hit North Carolina in April, and $700,000 to support relief efforts after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The reorganization simply will make all that work more efficient, effective and consistent throughout the region, Broome says.
“A rising tide,” she says, “raises all ships.”