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January 24, 2016

Where does $1 to the Wounded Warrior Project go?

by Anne Paddock

The Wounded Warrior Project is one of the most well-known non-profit charitable organizations focused on rebuilding the lives of wounded veterans. Established in 2003, the Wounded Warrior Project is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida with about 500 employees. A 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, their mission is to “honor and empower wounded warriors.”

The 2013 IRS Form 990 (which reflects the year ending September 30, 2104) reveals the Wounded Warrior Project raised $342 million – $108 million more than the year before. The organization reported expenses of $244 million (not including the non-cash expense of depreciation) or 71% of revenue, leaving $98 million (29% of revenue) unspent to strengthen their balance sheet – allowing their net assets to increase from $166 million to $248 million at year-end, most of which are publicly traded securities and cash ($235 million). In other words, the Wounded Warrior Project has nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in their “savings” account.

Revenue is primarily generated from contributions – $312 million (91% of total revenue) out of the $342 million. The remaining $30 million (9% of total revenue) came from capital gains on the sales of assets, investment income, fundraising events, and mailing list sources.

Functional expenses (not including grants and assistance and depreciation ) of $202 million (59% of revenue) fell into 7 primary categories:

  • $ 46 million:  Services for legal, accounting, investments, consulting  (13% of revenue)
  • $ 40 million:  Compensation, benefits, pension plans, payroll taxes (12% of revenue)
  • $ 37 million:  Fundraising, advertising, and promotion  (11% of revenue)
  • $ 33 million:  Travel, conferences, conventions, and meeting  (10% of revenue)
  • $ 23 million:  Postage and shipping  (7% of revenue)
  • $ 14  million:  Office, occupancy, IT, insurance  (4% of revenue)
  • $  9 million:    Other expenses – no detail provided  (2% of revenue)

The $40 million in compensation includes 26 people with compensation packages that exceed $100,000 including $3 million in total compensation packages paid to the following twelve staff:

  • $496,415:  Steven Nardizzi, CEO
  • $397,329:  Albion Gioridano, COO
  • $285,383:  Jeremy Chwat, Chief Program Officer
  • $278,554:  Adam Silva, Chief Development Officer
  • $257,611:   Ronald W. Burgess, Chief Financial Officer
  • $230,807: Richard A Stieglitz, EVP Physical Health and Wellness
  • $175,150:   John T. Hamre, III, EVP Direct Response
  • $173,585:   John M. Molino, Programs Chief of Staff
  • $172,378:   Ryan Clement Pavlu, EVP, Warrior Engagement
  • $171,781:    John W. Roberts, EVP, Warrior Relations
  • $170,912:   Ralph J. Ibson, National Policy Director
  • $163,276:   Bruce G. Nitsche, EVP, Special Projects

51 organizations were paid in excess of $100,000 with the 5 largest payments made to:

  • $3.4 million:  Neuro Community Care (Independence Program)
  • $2.6 million:  Creative Direct Response (PR – they raised $110 million for the organization retaining $3 million netting $107 million for the Wounded Warrior Project)
  • $2.2 million:  FLOW Nonfiction (Public Awareness)
  • $2.2 million:  McGladrey (IT and Risk Management)
  • $2.1 million:  Eaglecom, Inc. (Direct TV Media)

The Wounded Warrior Project also appears to act as an oversight committee by collecting revenue and making grants to other non-profit organizations that provide needed services or goods to warriors. Of the $42 million (12% of revenue) in grants and contributions given, nearly $13 million (4% of revenue) was given to 39 non-profit organizations with the three largest recipients being:

  • $3.5 million:  One Mind for Research, Inc., Seattle, Washington
  • $2.9 million:  Operation Homefront, San Antonio, Texas
  • $1.6 million:  Community Foundation for the Central SA, Augusta, Georgia

The largest grant/contribution – $28 million – made by the Wounded Warrior Project was to a related organization called The Wounded Warrior Project LT Support Trust – a non-profit that provides long-term care for the most severely disabled warriors.

100 student grants totaling nearly $1 million were also made to individuals.

Fundraising events – 8 major ones – in which more than $5,000 was raised resulted in $1,890,873 million in gross fundraising income. $843,922 (42 cents of each dollar) was spent on fundraising expenses:

  • $200,215 was spent on rental facilities.
  • $256,067 was spent on food and beverages.
  • $375,923 was spent on other expenses (no detail provided).
  • $10,122 was spent on entertainment.
  • $1,195 was spent on non-cash prizes.

$1,047,351 was the net result of the 8 fundraisers, which means the organization nets 58 cents of each dollar from these fundraisers.  However, these events did raise $640,313 in contributions (but the IRS requires these to be netted out to match the income with expenses).

To summarize, $1 in revenue is spent as follows:

 $1.00:  Revenue

-$0.13:  Services for legal, accounting, investments, consulting

-$0.12:  Compensation, benefits, pension plans, payroll taxes

-$0.11:  Fundraising, advertising, and promotion

-$0.10: Travel, conferences, conventions, and meeting

-$0.07: Postage and shipping

-$-.04:  Office, occupancy, IT, insurance

-$0.02: Other expenses – no detail provided (2% of revenue)

-$0.59:  Subtotal Functional Expenses

 $0.41:  Amount Remaining

-$0.12:  Grants and Contributions to Organizations assisting warriors; and individuals

 $0.29:  Amount Remaining Unspent

In summary,  the Wounded Warrior Project has about $250 million (a quarter of a billion dollars) in net assets and raised nearly $350 million last year, a large portion ($107 million ) of which is from Creative Direct Response, a marketing consultant in Bowie, Maryland. The Wounded Warrior Project is a well-funded non-profit charitable organization that only spent 71 cents of every dollar thereby significantly strengthening their balance sheet at year-end, which begs the question:  why aren’t more dollars being spent on the warriors? After all, the organization had $166 million in liquid assets before adding nearly $100 million last year.  Compensation packages are generous to the twelve key employees that range from a high of about a half million dollars to a low of $163,000.

To review the IRS Form 990 (2013), click here.

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