Update May 5, 2023
April 24-25, 2023 ARCRA Board Meets with Gail McGovern and ARC Senior Leadership
The ARCRA board annual meeting was held on April 24 and 25 on Zoom. The board met with Red Cross President, Gail McGovern and her senior leadership team to share what we had learned through the strategic planning process and the members surveys that we had complete, and in which many of you participated. We wanted to talk about the opportunity to transform ARCRA into something reflecting the current needs and interests of current members, offering a value proposition that would focus the association into an alumni association.
Historic perspective The historic mission of ARCRA was to advocate for retirees in decisions related to the Red Cross fixed benefit pension program. But the number of Red Cross retirees enrolled in the pension program has declined.
The Red Cross pension program began on May 1, 1936, making it one of the country’s oldest pension retirement systems. It was closed to new hires on July 1, 2009. In 2012, there were some 50,000 retirees and beneficiaries who were participating in the Red Cross pension program. To eliminate the large pension financial obligation, a $3 billion liability, on the Red Cross balance sheet, a series of de-risking activities were implemented. The de-risking activities included offering a lump sum payment to retirees in lieu of a monthly pension payment when individuals become eligible to receive Red Cross pension and moving Red Cross pension participants to an annuity program. Now, less than 2,000 individuals remain in the Red Cross fixed benefit pension plan. And the number of pension recipients will grow but at a rate less than 200 new retirees per year. Also, unlike us who stayed their entire career at Red Cross, most employees now are more episodic, changing jobs every 5 to 10 years. Hence, the number of employees who retire from the Red Cross is declining. The net result for ARCRA is the number of potential members has declined rapidly.
Strategic Planning Process Understanding that reality the board embarked on a strategic planning process last Summer. Based on the input of ARCRA members provided through three waves of research this winter, the board moved forward with discussion on the evolution of the Retiree Association into an alumni organization open to retirees and welcoming former Red Cross employees. In that research we learned that connection to fellow Red Cross colleagues was very important to retirees, but many colleagues did not retire from Red Cross nor were they vested in the old pension fund. Additionally, survey respondents indicated that they supported opening ARCRA membership to other Red Cross employees who are also have an on-going commitment to meeting humanitarian needs
with a connection to the Red Cross, its mission, and fundamental principles…a RED CROSS ALUMNI ASSOCIATION.
Red Cross Alumni Association The board and members, through the survey input, believe that ARCRA facilitates connection with former employees with shared experiences and beliefs, provides educational and informational opportunities, and engages retirees in Red Cross volunteering and programs. So, with Gail and her team we talked about where to start:
- How does ARCRA transform, to build on its current programs and broadening the membership base from retirees in the pension system, to all former employees?
- How does ARCRA engage with the Red Cross to build a greater community of former Red Cross employees?
- Is there an opportunity to engage members is Red Cross ambassadors, volunteers, broadening the connections that former employees already have in their local community?
Next Steps The meetings on April 24 and 25 started the discussion and we believe that there is an opportunity to build a robust community of former Red Crossers, both retirees and former employees. The board is meeting on May 11 on Zoom to frame out what this expanded ARCRA will look like.
Based on your feedback through the surveys, we know that you welcome the addition of former employees to build on the strengths and vision of ARCRA to create the American Red Cross Alumni Association.
Please send me any ideas, concerns, resources, positive and negative experiences with other alumni organizations. Watch for updates in future eNewsletters and webinars, as we build the new vision together.
ARCRA President Harold Brooks
P.S. You can support the IFRC humanitarian response to the earthquake in Syria and Turkey using the links below:
If you wish your donation to be tax deductible you can make it through the American Red Cross at RedCross.org and mark it for Syria and Turkey earthquake relief.