Technology For Good: How the American Red Cross Disbursed Emergency Aid with Zelle®

A hot meal. A warm blanket. A soft shoulder to cry on. Small actions lead to big movements. The American Red Cross knows that relief leads to recovery, and has made it their mission to help people when they need it most. This same principle has inspired what we do here at Early Warning.

Two years ago, we introduced a payments network to help people across the country send and receive money through their mobile banking apps. We made it our mission to get money moving fast, safe, and easy to help fuel life’s most important moments.

But, it was through our partnership with the American Red Cross that we saw our ability to change lives. This was a proud moment. Hearing the stories of people who were able to start over after such tragedy because of our technology was truly uplifting for our team who’d spent years working with the banking industry to bring Zelle® to life. 

It started in 2017. As you probably remember, our country dealt with a difficult hurricane season. But in a display of human kindness, generous donations were pouring into the Red Cross to help communities destroyed by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Money needed to get into the hands of communities fast, and an alternative to mailing paper relief checks out was desperately needed.

Without hesitation, we got to work. Within hours of receiving the call, we pulled together individuals from across our banking network, and within days Zelle® was being used to disburse millions of dollars to individuals and families. All told, nearly $31 Million was distributed to those in need.

But we knew we could do more. We knew that together, the banking and technology industries could spark more positive change. Today, through partners such as Wells Fargo, Zelle® can now be used to donate money to the Red Cross.

Following a disaster, every hour, every minute, and every second counts. Financial aid deposited directly into a victim’s bank account leads to healing. The speed in which that transaction occurs leads to a smile.

That’s what inspires us to continue innovating and taking big actions to make a difference.

What inspires you?

Ready to learn more?

To learn more about Disbursements with Zelle® you can visit our website at or talk to your treasury bank. Current financial institutions offering Disbursements with Zelle® include Bank of America, Bank of the West, BMO Harris, BNY Mellon, Chase, Citi, PNC, US Bank and Wells Fargo.

About Lou Anne Alexander

Lou Anne Alexander, group president of payment solutions, leads the Early Warning payments product line. Alexander’s team is currently focused on creating faster payment solutions, including the Zelle Network®, for financial institutions. From community banks and credit unions to the largest national financial institutions, more than 200 financial institutions have joined the network to date. And for more than 110-million consumers, Zelle® is already available in their mobile banking app.

Was this content helpful?