The Wounded Warrior Project released a statement denying allegations that it wastes donation money on staff parties and field trips.
Earlier this week, CBS News released a report based on the testimony of 40 former Wounded Warrior Project employees claiming that the charity used donations to fund extravagant parties and vacation getaways for its employees. It also reported that CEO Steve Nardizzi liked to pull extreme stunts at these events, such as riding in on a horse or rappelling down an office building.
According to an unidentified source, one party in Colorado cost the organization $3 million.
“You’re using our injuries, our darkest days, our hardships, to make money. So you can have these big parties,” Army veteran Erick Millette told CBS News.
The organization has denied all claims that it spends too little on veterans and too much on itself.
“Based on our most recent independently audited financial statements, 80.6 percent of total expenditures went to provide programs and services for wounded service members, their caregivers, and families,” wrote Ayla Tezel, executive vice president of communications for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Tezel also denied that the nonprofit spent $26 million on staff get-togethers, including the $3 million training event.
“Ninety-four percent of the figure CBS reported as conference and meetings for staff was actually a program expense for warriors and their families to participate in services such as mental health programming,” Tezel wrote.
The Wounded Warrior Project’s success is due in part to the money it pours into advertising and publicizing its events. Its 2014 tax records show that 34 percent of its donation money went back into fundraising and 60 percent went directly to veteran care. To put this in perspective, other successful veterans charities like the Fischer House Foundation spend little on fundraising and pour 90 percent of profits into its programs.
But these tax numbers are a couple years old, and unless the Wounded Warrior Project releases new tax info, we can’t really know for sure where its donation money goes. Hopefully, more evidence will come to light and clear the air.