wjxt logo

Where do your donations to Wounded Warrior Project go?

Tax documents: 20% of $372M in donations went to fundraising costs

Photo does not have a caption

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Twenty percent of $372 million in donations that the Wounded Warrior Project received last year went toward paying for fundraising costs, according to new financial documents obtained by the News4Jax I-TEAM Tuesday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee began looking into the Jacksonville-based nonprofit’s finances after the I-TEAM and national media investigations revealed reports of lavish spending on employees and not post 9/11 veterans.

The committee’s investigation is ongoing, but the I-TEAM alerted Senate officials Tuesday that there were new tax documents for the committee to review.

The documents reveal that Wounded Warrior Project received $372 million in donations over the last fiscal year -- $60 million more than the year before.

Take the $372 million, plus other revenue like $11 million in royalties and $13 million in investment income, and Wounded Warrior Project’s total revenue last year adds up to $398,698,187, according to the documents.

The tax documents also break down how the revenue is spent, detailing that $29.8 million went to Wounded Warrior events and activities, $86.5 million in grants was given to other organizations like Operation Home Front and $46 million paid for the salaries and benefits of Wounded Warrior Project employees – including $3 million of that going to the charity’s top 12 executives – and $7.9 paid for travel expenses. It is unclear if the travel expenses were used for employees or warriors.

In the documents, Wounded Warrior Project declared $74.7 million in total fundraising costs, which consumes 20 percent of the charity’s overall donations.

Of the $74.7 million in total fundraising costs, $35.9 million went to TV and online advertising and $34.7 million was spent on postage and shipping to send mailers that ask for money. Wounded Warrior Projects contends both are programs that help warriors.

VIEW: 990 Form | Wounded Warrior Project executives' salaries | Statement of Revenue | Statement of Expenses | Grants, assistance give to other organizations


UPDATE: As the I-TEAM reported August 23, Dani Poole, the wife of a local veteran and a mother of five, was trying to reach out to Wounded Warrior Project for help -- as their home is in need of serious repairs and she didn't know where to turn. When Poole says she didn't hear back, she contacted us.

We reached out to Wounded Warrior Project on her behalf and the new CEO, Mike Linnington, vowed to personally follow through with this family and help -- even though the nonprofit's mission is mental and physical wellness with long term support, educational and employment goals assistance.

Linnington has kept his word. The I-TEAM has been in constant contact with Wounded Warrior Project and the organization has gone to the family's home in Putnam County to meet with them in person. Wounded Warrior Project is working to connect the family with services and resources to help with their needed repairs.

Since Linnington took over in July, he's been very candid with the I-TEAM -- saying his main commitment is to the warriors as the charity works to rebuild trust with the public.

As the I-TEAM first reported, following a tour of the country and meeting with veterans and staff, Linnington announced restructuring changes this week to maintain his commitment.

Wounded Warrior Project has reduced nearly 50 percent of its executive staff. The charity is also consolidating operations to reduce administrative costs and streamlining its workforce to focus on areas identified as greatest in need.

The Jacksonville-based nonprofit says that while it is reducing its total workforce, it will add staff in areas of mental health, long-term in-home support, warrior engagement, and other roles essential to its mission.

While a strategic review and restructuring continues, as a first step, Linnington has outlined the following areas of focus:

1. Redouble efforts to provide the most critical support services to wounded warriors and their families: Increase investments in mental health care for those with the signature wounds of these conflicts: Post traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

  • Long-term support
  • Community engagement activities to connect warriors with one another
  • Lifelong independence and financial resilience

2. Engage with national and local community organizations: Increase synergy in relationships and partnerships with non-profit organizations, businesses, and government entities that serve warriors and their families.

3. Improve accountability, transparency, trust: Continued focus on organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Clear, consistent reporting
  • Accountability to America's warriors, their families, the public, and WWP employees

About the Authors:

Lynnsey Gardner is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning investigative reporter and fill-in anchor for The Local Station.