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February 9, 2018


Executive Compensation at the Wounded Warriors Project

by Anne Paddock

The Wounded Warriors organization is technically named the Wounded Warrior Project, Inc. (WWP) although many people simply refer to this non-profit 501 (c) (3) as “Wounded Warriors.” Established in 2005, WWP is based in Jacksonville, Florida and serves “veterans and service members who incurred a physical and mental injury, or wound co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001.”

Each year, WWP submits a Form 990 to the IRS which details key financial information about the organization. The 2015 IRS Form 990 (covering the period beginning October 1, 2015 and ending September 30, 2016) reports the following information:

733 individuals were employed at a total cost of $42.7 million (an average of $52,000 each) although 32 individuals received compensation greater than $100,000.

The 15 highest compensated employees were paid $4.3 million (an average of $287,000 each):

  • $604,551:  Steven F Nardizzi, CEO (through 3/16)
  • $420,905:  Albion J Giordano, COO (through 3/16)
  • $356,635:  Jeremy M Chwat, Chief Strategy Officer (though 9/16)
  • $346,542:  Ronald W Burgess, CFO
  • $338,471:  Adam Silva, Chief Program Officer (through 5/16)
  • $287,170:   Peter S Gayton, VP Economic Empowerment (through 12/15)
  • $238,032:  Jonathan B Sullivan, VP Economic Empowerment
  • $236,651:  Ayla M Tezel, VP Communications
  • $235,525:  Adeline E Poudrier, VP Human Resources (though 9/16)
  • $227,834:  Amberlie Allred, VP General Counsel
  • $227,683:  Jennifer M Silva, CHF Program Officer (beginning 8/16)
  • $226,140:  John T Hamre, III, VP Direct Response
  • $206,357:  Michael C Richardson, VP Independence and Mental Health
  • $191,811:  Bruce G Nitsche, VP Special Projects (through 9/16)
  • $134,630:  Ryan Clement Pavlu, VP Warrior Engagement

As listed above, 11 of the 15 (73%) most highly compensated individuals are men while 4 (27%) are women.  Of the 10 most highly compensated individuals, 7 are men while 3 are women with the men on the top of the list and the women on the bottom.

Peter Gayton received a severance payment of $84,000.

To read the most recent IRS Form 990 (2015), click here.

  1. Jul 17 2020

    Re – United Way. United Way generally uses about 25% of revenue to cover their organization expenses, although I’ve seen numbers higher. If you want your donation dollars to go as far as possible, donate directly to one of their vetted local organizations (after you review the Form 990 and financial statements) listed on Schedule I, Part II.

    Below are a few links regarding United Way:

  2. Dan Gaubas
    Jul 16 2020

    From my experience with local orgs I totally agree with your comments. The local United Way or similar orgs, if managed well, since they depend on many volunteers being on their annual request panels can be very effective. Thanks again for your perspective and dedication. I plan to follow you going forward. Dan….

  3. Jul 16 2020

    I agree with you. Finding the non-profits that spend close to 90% is tough. And, even when an organization says they spend 90%, you still have to dissect the numbers because everyone’s definition of “program services” varies (note: I recently wrote about a union – a non-profit – that now includes fundraising costs both as a separate category and as a program expense). Donors and board members have to demand better from so many of these organizations or things won’t change. I think that almost every non-profit starts off with great intentions but things change as the organization grows. Donors end up supporting a huge organization that is more about compensation, office space, fees for services, travel and conferences – supporting the machine comes to mind. When people ask me about who to give to, I always tell them to read the Form 990 and the financial statements and give locally. Small, local non-profits tend to watch finances very closely and spend more on the mission.

  4. Dan Gaubas
    Jul 16 2020

    Thank you Anne for directing me to the added information about how WWP spends their revenue intake. While their grants to hospitals and organizations across the country is to be commended, it’s disappointing for many of us to see that they spend so much on salaries and general management. I earlier stated that in my limited experience with non-profits locally, I think that when an organization spends closer to 90% of the revenue back to programs and the intended recipients, that should be more the normal situation, I should have clarified. The 90% plus should be a goal for all non profit orgs in my opinion, however some larger orgs get out of balance, like several of the ones you have researched, so I would look for their management to make decisions on definitely moving more to that goal, realizing that it’s not an overnight change. An org such as several of the ones you have researched, should want to make these changes and will only occur if their board of directors take the responsibility to make it happen. Thanks again for your timely response and I will look forward to seeing more very informative sharing of this type of factual reporting. Sincerely, Dan G….

  5. Jul 16 2020

    You may be interested in reading the following post. Yes, 71 cents of every dollar goes to “programs” which is a broad category. Of that 71 cents, 55 cents is spent on “program” expenses while 16 cents is spent on actual grants (remember that grants made to other non-profits have their expenses deducted before reaching the intended).

    What is more telling is looking at specific expenses: “$65 out of every $100 was spent on compensation for the 766 employees, office-related expenses, fees for outside services, advertising and promotion, travel and conferences, and direct response fundraising expenses. $35 out of every $100 was spent on grants, programs/other provider services, and warrior events and activities.”

    As for director compensation, there is none reported. The organization has 9 directors although 10 are listed (because of term timing differences) on Part VII of the Form 990 that shows they did not receive compensation.

  6. D. Gaubas
    Jul 14 2020

    This is a tough one to turn away from due to the vets that actually do receive help. I never served in the military, however have family that do or did. As a retired financial person and looking at their most recent 2019 report, I can summarize my findings; the management and general staff receive a little over 5 cents to every dollar spent. Fundraising receives over 23 cents of every dollar, which is extremely high, in my opinion and deserves further detail, which is not shown in their financials. This leaves about 71 cents for every dollar of revenue to be spent on the “programs”. I don’t know whether the board of directors receive compensation, however if they do, while an impressive list of vets, I would hope it’s minimal. I would like to know from the people who have already left comments, or may visit here in the future if there is a “not for profit” agency that directly serves vets whose expenses are at least 90% directly to the vets and programs that serve them, for that is worth supporting. Thank you for your service all veterans!

  7. lilolady
    Jul 9 2020

    Choose wisely … I am so ashamed for all the years I have supported the wrong people!!! I worked so hard and had such high hopes that what I gave would do so much good. I am dashed at what this sight has brought to light! Thank you for it!!! Passing it to everyone!

  8. David simpson
    Jul 5 2020

    The salaries are over the top, by the time the salaries are paid not much is going to the wounded. For that reason I’m out.

  9. James Graves
    Jul 5 2020

    As a Vietnam veteran rated at 90% disabled I’m a supporter of help to veterans. I am. For some time I’ve been hearing about the Wounded Warriors Project and that they weren’t “the best they could be”. So I researched them. I discovered that they have gone on employee retreats where they spent more than $500 a night per employee. Not good. Then I reviewed their salaries. Yes, they are providing a service and should be compensated. But when I reviewed the salaries I was really surprised. They have 32 people who are being paid $100,000 a year or more. I understand exactly what is going on here. Yes, they do somethings for veterans and I applaud that. But in reality, what they have done by creating this organization is to create high paying job, think about it. Who wouldn’t be willing to give money away to veterans if you could get an annual salary of $100,000 + in the process. They are in fact using disabled veterans to get their salaries. Not a good organization.

  10. Daniel Storey
    May 29 2020

    I’m 100% DAV served during Vietnam I think the wounded warriors concept is good but like all good things most lose there way. I don’t expect you to work for free you guys could cut your pay in half and still live good with all the benefits that you get travel meals hotel all covered. Just saying a lot of that money that should and could be used on DAV is not. I’m sure you help a lot of vets but imagine what could have been done if 80% or so of the money actually went to helping the veterans and I mean actually went to the veterans!!! Don’t forget I am someone who lived the life you don’t need to convince me your doing the best you can with all the money your getting. I don’t know if anyone on the board are veterans or better DAV and you feel your doing the best you can for the veterans that need all the help that you can give.

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