Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2003 as the need for assisting wounded veterans from the post–9/11 era became evident. Wounded Warrior Project states that it provides support for wounded veterans’ bodies, minds, and families as they try to readjust to now-normal life after being injured during military service. The organization is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.
- Increases in annual revenue
- Financial information is accessible
- Annual awards
Wounded Warrior Project has rapidly increased its annual revenue over the last several years. Program expenses have not increased in proportion to the significant increases in revenue, however, which indicates the higher allocation of funds for fundraising and administrative expenses.
Wounded Warrior Project spent 5.8 percent of its annual revenue in 2014–2015 for administrative expenses. This percentage is comparable to many other organizations. Executive salaries have not been available since Steven Nardizzi’s replacement as the director in March 2016. Mr. Nardizzi was reported to have a salary equivalent to 0.19 percent of the organization’s expenses.
Accessible Financial Information
Wounded Warrior Project publishes its annual reports, consolidated financial statements, and IRS Forms 990 from 2006 to 2015. This information is somewhat more difficult to find than for other charitable organizations, but simple searches yield comprehensive and quick results.
Wounded Warrior Project recognizes individuals, businesses, and organizations which illustrate long-standing examples of courage, assisting wounded veterans (post–9/11 era), or spreading positive messages about wounded warriors. Wounded Warrior Project has several awards which it has created and awards at its annual award banquets and ceremonies. Some of the people who have been recognized by Wounded Warrior Project are Bill O’Reilly, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bank of America. The National Football League has selected Wounded Warrior Project as one of its supported charities in recognition of the continued importance of supporting the military.
- Expensive fundraising activities
- Negative Press
- 59.9 percent of revenue used in program delivery
Wounded Warrior Project allocates a significant percentage of its revenue to fundraising activities. For 2014–2015, the organization spent $84,358,058, or 35.2 percent, of its annual revenue for fundraising. The efficacy of these programs is lower by comparison to other charitable organizations, which are able to spend a few cents on fundraising to collect a dollar. For each dollar received by Wounded Warrior Project, the organization spends twenty-five cents.
Most charity watchdog organizations state that a minimum percentage of 70 percent of an organization’s revenue should be used for its program delivery. Wounded Warrior Project reported that for the fiscal year end of September 30, 2015 the organization used only 59.9 percent of its revenue to provide programs for wounded veterans. This percentage is significantly lower than the minimum percentage considered to be responsible by watchdog organizations as well as being much lower than most charitable organizations.
It is conceivable that with recent changes in hiring new executives that this performance metric might change, but at the writing of this review in September 2016, the changes are too recent to yield results, either positive or negative.
From January to March of 2016, the Wounded Warrior Project was the subject of much negative press from both CBS News and The New York Times. These investigations used information from former employees of the Wounded Warrior Project as a source and alleged that the organization mismanaged funds and did not support those whom they purported to serve in their mission and with its stated programs. These reports resulted in a change of the director and a significant drop in the public opinion of the organization.
Wounded Warrior Project has demanded that CBS News and The New York Times retract their stories and print corrections, stating that the findings of the investigations were flawed since information was obtained from disgruntled former employees. It is important to note that Charity Navigator, a well-respected charity watchdog organization, has published a low-level alert for donors to the Wounded Warrior Project as a result of these investigations.
Donors receive regular updates via email, social media, and postal mail, if they provide the organization their email or postal address. Wounded Warrior Project relies heavily on fundraising for its annual revenue, so donors can expect to be regularly solicited for further donations. Some say that the communication is excessive. There are many anecdotal reports of people discontinuing their support of the organization based upon receiving repeated communication soliciting further donations and Wounded Warrior Project’s high percentage of revenue being used for fundraising activities.