Initial Revenue: Permanent Revenue Aid Campaigns


When Kızılay was first established in 1868, under the guidance of Dr. Abdullah Bey as the Mecrûhîn ve Marzâ-yı Askeriyeye İmdâd ve Muâvenet Cemiyeti (Ottoman Turkish for "Association for Aid and Assistance to Wounded and Sick Soldiers"), no source of revenue was allocated. The founding purpose for the Hilal-i Ahmer Association (Ottoman Turkish for "Kızılay"), as was the case for the Red Cross organizations of other countries, was limited to helping wounded and sick soldiers on the front during wartime. In other words, the duty for that period of time was apparent. Kızılay received its first duty order during the War of 1877-1878.

Kızılay initiated a widespread aid campaign at home and abroad to help its efforts during the Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-78. In one year, a revenue of 72,583 Ottoman Liras was obtained. While 61,000 liras were spent for the soldiers, the remaining sum of approximately 12,000 liras constituted the permanent/principal capital. A similar practice was employed during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897 as well.

Bazaar of Compassion

Kızılay’s call of duty during wars ended with the Second Constitutional Era and its responsibilities became permanent. The information obtained during the meetings of the International Committee of the Red Cross and new developments paved the way for the diversification of Kızılay's duties. Accordingly, disasters and events such as earthquakes, floods and migration became part of Kızılay's scope of duty. Thus, more regular revenues were needed. However, donations were still the main source of revenue for Kızılay. The Bazaar of Compassion was organized as a charity sale by the wife of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rıfat Pasha who supported the efforts of the institution following the proclamation of the Second Constitutional Era; and 80 thousand Francs was collected. This was the first source of revenue apart from donations and the allocations of the State.

Compassion Stamps

The first proposal to issue aid stamps was brought forward by Besim Ömer, who cited the practice of the American Red Cross. However, the proposal was not approved for fear of counterfeiting. Afterwards, (according to collector Haluk Perk) the Compassion Stamps project was put into practice due to the scarcity experienced during the Balkan Wars in 1912 and World War I in 1914. The first stamps cost 10 and 40 lira cents (kuruş) and they included various images, as well as the slogan "Vatana Muhabbet Yaralı Askere Muâvenet" (Love for the Homeland, Aid for the Wounded Soldier).

The Compassion Stamps practice continued during the republic era. As a matter of fact, it was proposed in 1924 that Compassion Stamps to be used instead of all other stamps on a day allocated to Hilal-i Ahmer. The proposal passed into law at the Parliament in 1926 and October 29, Republic Day was chosen as the day of Hilal-i Ahmer stamps.


Request and Proposal for Permanent Revenue

During the Balkan Wars, the importance of regular source of income was understood and started to be expressed out loud. At the beginning of 1910s, all countries had taken significant steps in this regard. Russia was giving its national Red Cross a share of the train ticket fees, while other countries were organizing large lotteries through the sale of stamps and postcards for their national Red Cross organizations. Furthermore, the Serbian government granted the privilege of running the Palanka mineral water to the Serbian Red Cross, thus allowing it to have a regular source of revenue. Besim Ömer Pasha, then Vice President of Hilal-i Ahmer, brought similar privileges to the agenda. As a matter of fact, it was requested to have an appropriate annual budget allocated from the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Navy.

Hilal-i Ahmer Flower Day

Taking notice of the examples from other countries, Hilal-i Ahmer took action to organize the Hilal-i Ahmer day to provide resources for the Association. To that end, August 4, 1913 (Ramadan 1, 1331 according to the Islamic calendar), the first day of Eid al-Fitr was chosen. The goal was to collect donations by selling Hilal-i Ahmer flowers on crowded streets and squares on Hilal-i Ahmer day. The first Hilal-i Ahmer day was celebrated on the first day of Eid al-Fitr in 1913 and 549 liras were collected through donations. As of 1914, the Center for Women undertook the distribution of flowers and the revenues increased. For Hilal-i Ahmer Flower Day, women were calling: “In the coming Eid, we are all going to become ‘Hilal-i Ahmer florists’.”


Center for Women, House of Production

The atelier of Hilal-i Ahmer's Center for Women opened on August 7, 1913. Here, volunteering women taught women with no families and young girls needlecraft. Apart from meeting the military's needs in this regard, products bearing embroidery that reflected the high-quality handicraft of the Eastern culture were manufactured and sold for revenue.

First Hilal-i Ahmer Postcard, Notebook, and Poster

The first postcard of Hilal-i Ahmer was issued in 1913. This practice became more widespread during World War I. In 1913, notebooks containing texts and images that introduce Hilal-i Ahmer, as well as pencils bearing the logo of Hilal-i Ahmer were put up for sale. Posters prepared by doctors and titled “Until the Doctor Arrives” containing the most important first-aid information, were printed.


First Hilal-i Ahmer Compassion Ball

In 1913, a spectacular ball was organized in Pera Palas by Hilal-i Ahmer, under the patronage of the Grand Vizier with the help of the Austrian Ambassadress and the Armenian, Greek, and Jewish volunteers of Hilal-i Ahmer's Center for Women. A significant portion of the goods to be sold with lottery during the ball was sent by the wife of Rıfat Pasha, the Paris Ambassador. Furthermore, Talat Bey, the Minister of Internal Affairs, sent certain gifts for the ball. At the ball, to which the Honorary President of the Association, Yusuf İzzeddin Efendi, and Abdülmecid Efendi also attended, small pop cards and pencils were handed to participants, as well as the pins prepared for ladies. The net revenue of the ball was 2656 Ottoman Liras. Hilal-i Ahmer balls continued to be organized in the subsequent years and following the proclamation of the Republic.

First Calendar of Hilal-i Ahmer Association's Center for Women

First issued in 1914 by the Hilal-i Ahmer Association's Women's Branch and sold for a certain fee, the Calendar of Hilal-i Ahmer Association's Women's Branch was one of the annual sources of income for the Association. The calendar contained practical information aimed at women, introductory information about Hilal-i Ahmer, health tips and aphorisms.

First Hilal-i Ahmer Exhibition

As World War I continued, the exhibition, which was held in 1917 with the help of German, Austro-Hungarian, and Bulgarian Red Cross organizations, remained open for 3 months. Products manufactured by the Center for Women were put up for sale in the exhibition, which welcomed more than 200 thousand visitors in total.

First Hilal-i Ahmer Holiday Newspaper

The tradition of printing holiday newspapers, which started in 1917 during the Ottoman Era, was trusted to Hilal-i Ahmer, which needed more revenue during wartime, in 1918. Thus, Hilal-i Ahmer published its first holiday newspaper in 1918.

Hilal-i Ahmer Blue Mosque Exhibition

Constantly remaining vigilant for more than a decade from the Tripolitanian War to the Battle of the Commander-in-Chief, Hilal-i Ahmer opted for selling many of the materials in its warehouse and earning revenue during peacetime. To that end, an exhibition was held in the courtyard of the Blue Mosque for a month and the goods were offered to the people for sale. Thus, the Blue Mosque became the focal point of the aid efforts once again, as it looked after Hilal-i Ahmer during the migrations of the Balkan Wars. 148,937 liras were earned from these sales.

Hilal-i Ahmer Karahisar Mineral Water

At the beginning of the 1900s, the Karahisar Mineral Water Enterprise, which Sultan Abdülhamid II allocated to Şişli Etfal Hospital to fund it, was transferred to the Special Provincial Administration of Karahisar in the aftermath of the proclamation of the Second Constitutional Era. In 1920, the Administration planned on going out to tender for the running the mineral water operations. The Hilal-i Ahmer Association learned about the plans via the İstanbul University, Faculty of Medicine. As the War of Independence continued, Dr. Adnan Bey, who was the Secretary-General of Hilal-i Ahmer, assumed the position of the Minister of Health within the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The Headquarters petitioned Dr. Adnan Bey, who managed Hilal-i Ahmer as the chairman during the War of Independence and who held positions such as the Minister of Health and Vice President of the Assembly, to transfer the privilege of operating the Çitli and Karahisar mineral water springs to Hilal-i Ahmer. The goal was to provide a permanent source of revenue for Hilal-i Ahmer to ensure the survival of the Association. Unfortunately, despite intense efforts, no concrete results were obtained until 1926. In October 1926, Atatürk donated the Karahisar Mineral Water Enterprises that he has personally given the capital for its construction, to the Kızılay.


Monopoly of Playing Cards

Through the law enacted on June 21, 1927 at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the monopoly of playing cards was granted to the Hilal-i Ahmer Association. According to the law, 75% of the profits would belong to the Association, while the remaining would be given to the treasury. The first batch of playing cards printed in Austria were put on the market on April 16, 1928, and a revenue of 55 thousand liras was earned from the sales. The sales continued in the following years.

Donations of Sacrificial Animal Hides

During the Ottoman Era and the Republic Era alike, philanthropists from various cities in Anatolia sold the hides of the animals they sacrificed for Eid al-Adha and sent the revenue to Hilal-i Ahmer. These donations of hides, which started spontaneously, were rendered regular and organized in 1927. The Government decided to divide the operation of collecting the hides of sacrificial and the revenue obtained therefrom between Kızılay, Türk Tayyare Cemiyeti (currently Turkish Aeronautical Association), and Himayet-i Etfal Association (Child Protection Association, currently Directorate General of Child Services).

Monopoly of Certain Drugs and Kinin

Another commercial privilege granted to Kızılay by law was related to the health industry. Law No. 2767 on Fever and Pox Medicines dated 07.06.1935 granted Kızılay the right to import and manufacture certain drugs, mainly kinin, and x-ray films. Kızılay had to keep a certain portion of the drugs and x-ray films under its monopoly, the ratio of which was determined by the Ministry of Health, within the country at all times.

Kızılay Gas Mask Factory

Coming face to face with chemical warfare during World War I, humanity was approaching a time that unrest was increasing and a second war was imminent. At that time, Turkey had to import gas masks which would protect the people against toxic gas during a possible chemical attack. Kızılay took steps to have Turkey manufacture its own gas masks. After the initiative proved to be successful, it was decided to open a gas mask factory upon the proposal of the Government and the approval of President of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The foundation of the factory, which was based on the German model, was laid in 1934. The factory was completed within one year and started production as of November 18, 1935.

Blood Centers – New Initiatives

In 1945, the equipment and materials of military hospitals, which were stored in various locations across the country, were reviewed and the deficiencies were remedied; the construction for a school and a hospital started in Ankara.

In 1949, Kızılay expanded its organizations in an orderly fashion and ensured that the İstanbul Sales Warehouse and the Afyonkarahisar Mineral Water Enterprise, both of which were crucial for generating revenue, were operated under the best conditions possible.

In 1950, the İstiklal Branch opened the first Kızılay Dispensary in İstanbul.

Kızılay established the tent sewing atelier in 1954 to be able to help victims of disasters in terms of accommodation. After the tent stocks shrank following Fethiye and Bolu earthquakes in 1957, the decision was made to improve the capabilities of the existing atelier and to expand its capacity.


The first blood centers were opened in 1957 in Ankara and İstanbul to initiate the blood operations services.


In 1964, the facilities of Afyon Mineral Water Enterprise were renewed and inaugurated for more revenue, as well as cleaner and larger production.

The construction of Kızılay Ankara Branch, which included a modern foodbank, outpatient clinic, and a dormitory for 360 students, was started in 1969.

Growing Organization

As Kızılay continued its aid efforts at home and abroad, the organization was growing further every day; opening new blood centers and stations in numerous provinces; dispensaries, kindergartens, and seminars were following each other.

In 1981, the Akçaalan Weaving Mill, of which Kızılay holds 26% of the shares, was inaugurated in the town of Akçaalan in Gediz, Kütahya.

Kızılay Sabancı Diabetes Center, a joint effort by the Sabancı Foundation and Kızılay, was opened in 1984.

In 1987, Kızılay built a modern and beautiful nursing home for its donors in Akçakoca and it was inaugurated by president.

Vision for Enhancing Revenue Generating Activities

A square in one of Ankara’s most distinguished neighborhoods had been named after Kızılay’s headquarters for more than 60 years. In order to increase Kızılay’s revenues and carry its power to the coming generations in the form of a monument, the old building was demolished and the foundations for Kızılay Ankara Social Facilities were laid in 1993, with a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel and an enthusiastic crowd.

By 1994, the revenue from the sales of playing cards, x-ray films, potassium iodide, and plastic injectors constituted one-third of the total income. Another important revenue stream was the rents coming from real estate such as commercial complexes and apartments which were built by or donated to Kızılay.

Kızılay had set its objective at the beginning of the 2000s: generating more resources for humanitarian aid efforts through effectively managing and diversifying revenue generating activities that are aligned with its mission; and reaching out to more people in need with the revenues generated.

In line with the ultimate goal, with a view of generating revenue in a contemporary, reliable, and high-quality manner; Kızılay aimed to increase productivity and market products and services in areas of activity such as mineral water enterprises, management of diagnosis and treatment centers, tent production and real estate management; and started looking for new activity areas.

Until 2018, revenue-generating activities of Kızılay, such as mineral water springs and private hospitals, were managed through a model called the Association’s Commercial Entity, which was unincorporated and administered by Kızılay’s Board of Directors as per the Law of Associations. Following the discussions with the relevant government authorities, the commercial entities of the Association were transformed into equity companies wholly owned by Kızılay Association in order to prevent management and auditing challenges that emerged as the entity expanded and to increase earnings through professionalizing. Following that, Kızılay Investment was founded in November 2018, with a view of providing sustainable resources for the humanitarian aid efforts of Kızılay and to generate solutions for its needs.

Thus, Kızılay modernized its over 150-year-old tradition of ‘revenue-generating activities’ according to the needs of the present times so as to generate more resources.

Now, with 11 group companies that operate in different industries, Kızılay Investment engages in persistent and sustainable activities that are in line with the mission of Kızılay and transfers the revenue it generates to Kızılay in full.


  • Kızılay Beverage
  • Kızılay Health Care
  • Kızılay Shelter Systems
  • Kızılay Culture & Arts
  • Kızılay System Building
  • Kızılay Asset Management
  • Kızılay Elderly Care
  • Kızılay Logistics
  • Kızılay Impact Investment
  • Kızılay Technology
  • Kızılay Biomedical
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