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November 6, 2021

Where Does $100 to Homes For Our Troops Go (2020)?

by Anne Paddock

Homes For Our Troops should be held up as the gold standard in how to help veterans:  they provide a much needed product (build and donate custom homes outfitted for disabilities) and a service (a pro-bono financial planner for three years to assist in financial planning and household budgeting, along with homeownership education and warranty coverage to ensure that the Veteran is set up for long-term success as a homeowner).

Homes For Our Troops does this while spending more than 80% of revenue on the actual homes. Also notable is low executive compensation:   the four (4) top executives are compensated $140,000-$175,000.  There are no first class or business travel expenses, companion travel expenses, health or social club dues or initiation fees, discretionary spending accounts, or gross up payments/tax indemnifications.  In the non-profit world, this is truly commendable.

Our veterans hold a special place in our hearts because they have put themselves on the front line to protect our country.  Although the US Department of Veterans Affairs strives to take care of our veterans when they come home, this is not always the case because the demand for goods and services often outweighs the government’s ability to meet these needs. To make up the shortfall, many non-profit charitable organizations raise funds to help.

Many non-profits do things well – they have low overhead, don’t pay high salaries, have low fundraising costs, and try to spend a high percentage of donations on veterans – but there are others that pay high salaries, have high overhead costs, have high fundraising costs, or spend money on things that translate into less dollars to help meet the basic needs of the veterans:  physical and mental health, housing, and food.

Homes For Our Troops is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) established in 2004 in Massachusetts “to build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans to help them rebuild their lives.” Over the past 17 years, 315 homes (an average of 18 custom homes annually) have been built for veterans who have “sustained injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).”

There are 14 board members of the governing body, 13 of whom are independent. The most recent Form 990 lists 15 board members (which appears to be due to timing differences); 13 of whom are male and 2 who are female.

The most recent IRS Form 990 (for the year ending September 30, 2020) reports the organization collected $27 million, most of which were contributions, gifts, and grants including $1 million from the government). Expenses totaled $30 million – $3 million in excess of revenue collected.  To cover this shortfall, Homes For Our Troops relied on net assets (savings) which was $18 million at the beginning of the year (and reduced to $15 million by the end of the year).

There are two ways to look at expenses or how donations are spent: by category which means by three (3) general categories – program, management and general expenses, and fundraising; or by line item which provides more detail.

Homes For Our Troops spent $30 million on the following three categories:

  • $26 million or 87% of revenue:  Program Expenses
  • $ 2 million or 7% of revenue:  Management and General Expenses
  • $ 2 million or  5% of revenue:  Fundraising Expenses

or by line item:

  • $22 million (81% of revenue):  Veterans’ Homes
  • $ 5 million (18% of revenue):  Compensation, Salaries, Benefits for 59 employees
  • $ 1 million (4% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $ 1 million (4% of revenue):  Professional Fees
  • $ 1 million (4% of revenue):  Advertising,Promotion, Events

Using the above information, ever $100 was spent as follows:

$100:  Donation

-$ 87:   Program Expenses

-$   7:    Management Expenses

-$   7:    Fundraising Expenses

-$111:   Total Expenses

or, by specific expense:

$100:  Donation

-$  81:  Veterans’s Homes

-$  18:  Compensation, Salaries, Benefits for 76 employees

-$    4:   Office-Related Expenses

-$    4:   Professional Fees

-$    4:  Advertising, Promotion, Events

-$111:  Total Expenses

As illustrated above, Homes For Our Troops spent $111 for every $100 raised in 2020, the shortfall covered by net assets.

In summary, Homes For Our Troops spends a high percentage of revenue on building custom homes for our veterans.  The IRS Form 990 indicates the organization has $15 million in net fund assets, most of which are unrestricted and in cash, pledges, grants receivable, and securities.  Of the 76 staff, only 4 receive more than $100,000 in compensation:

  • $175,014:  HT Landwermeyer, President and CEO
  • $145,071:  William D Ivey, Executive Director
  • $140,982:  Richard A Pratt, Director of Construction Ops
  • $140,297:  Cynthia R Baptiste, CFO

The organization does not pay for first class or charter travel or social or health club memberships.

The bottom line:  Homes For Our Troops spend donor dollars consistent with their mission:  they build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans to help them rebuild their lives. For more information on Homes For Our Troops, go to their website:  www.hfotusa.org. To read the most recent IRS Form 990 (2019 for the year ending September 30, 2020), click here.

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