Several days ago, the online retailer and auctioneer approached the Red Cross with a proposal: The Red Cross and tsunami victims would receive a portion of auction sales, in exchange for posting the Red Cross name and logo on Overstock.com's auction site and using the logo in its donation program.
But Red Cross officials declined, citing the need to have the ability to review auction items before they're listed on pages bearing the charitable organization's name and logo.
"We want to ensure our logo doesn't appear next to bids for a kidney or pornography, saying the sale benefits the Red Cross," said Susan Murray, director of Red Cross corporate partnerships. "When Overstock came to us, they didn't have a way for us to approve or disapprove items that would list our name."
Overstock.com, however, believes an agreement could have been worked out.
"We were more than willing to work with them, but that didn't seem to come through from their side," said Scott Blevins, an Overstock.com spokesman. "We were open to discussing what types of auction (categories) could or couldn't be included with their name."
He added the auction site has several other charitable groups participating in its tsunami relief program. The site displays the UNICEF and Oxfam logos, among others. Said Blevins: "The important thing is getting money to the people who need it."
The Red Cross said it has beento enter similar marketing agreements--deals in which the nonprofit agency would receive a portion of sales in exchange for lending its name and logo to a Web site or product.
"We welcome all charitable donations, and people are welcomed to link to our site. But there are legal procedures for anyone who wants to use our name and logo," Murray said.
Six other auction sites currently have submitted requests for marketing agreements to the Red Cross.
Murray said the Red Cross is preparing to enter into an agreement with Bid4Assets, which is designating Jan. 18 as the day in which all proceeds will go to charity.
Because Bid4Assets is restricting its donation period to one day and agreed to a list of auction items that would be prohibited from being associated with the Red Cross logo and name, the organization has no problem with that agreement, Murray said.
"We have a small staff and can't review a site's auction items in perpetuity, so one day is OK," Murray said, noting that there are other ways for companies to contribute. "They could say they are supporting disaster relief efforts and donate to us after the sales have been made."