Wounded Warrior Project Tax Returns Analyzed

by Tax Accountant and Former WWP Supporter

Are you a supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project? Before you donate to charity, we hope you'll read our reviews and ratings of veteran charities.

We strive to help you become an informed donor before you decide to give to charity. While our service members and veterans need your support, please make your donation to a charity that uses the vast majority of donated funds to actually support the troops, not to pay fundraising costs.

One anonymous reader, who has been a tax accountant for 17+ years, has reviewed and analyzed the 2010 and 2009 tax returns for The Wounded Warrior Project. You'll find his (or her) review below.

WWP 2010 Tax Return

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) 2010 Tax Return has been posted online. It follows the same formula - the percentage of expenses paid for Program Services was only 65% - according to page 10 of their IRS Form 940, posted at their web site.

FYE 2009 Officer salaries = $700,301
FYE 2010 Officer Salaries = $1,021,638

So here's the breakdown -
2008 - 64%
2009 - 62%
2010 - 65% of all expenses paid (out of CASH donated*) being used for veteran/wounded programs.

* Some of WWP's donations are "in kind" rather than cash - such as advertising time on radio and TV.

A+ charities should have 80% + going to programs. Even 75% would be better.

Just think what 10% more for programs could accomplish - we ALL owe it to our veterans to hold accountable the charities that we donate our money to.

Here's a link to the WWP 2010 tax return, if you'd like to examine it for yourself.

Wounded Warrior Project 2009 Tax Return

This is my analysis of the Wounded Warrior Project's FYE 9/30/2009 IRS Form 990 Tax Return.

Most A+ charities have 75% or more of expenses going to program services.

In 2009, the WWP has just 61.6% going to programs, or LESS THAN 2/3.

That means 38.3% of expenses goes to fundraising and admin expenses.

I believe travel for staff is also included in the program services total as well, which means that even less than 61.6% actually goes to programs for our wounded warriors.

What bothers me is that out of the $26,648,849 total expenses paid out for the fiscal year 2009, $16,441,204 is for programs that go to helping the wounded - only 61.9%

That $16,441,204 (for programs) INCLUDES:
Salaries for officers - $700,301,
Salaries for non-officers $4,815,096,
and payroll taxes on those salaries of $1,604,414.

The balance of salaries and taxes is allocated between admin expenses and fundraising expenses.

Ed. note: (So if you subtract the salaries and
payroll taxes included in the "program" total, which most donors consider expenses of doing business, rather than program services, that leaves only $9,321,393 or 35% going to "actual" programs. To be fair, those salaries most likely are for people who are helping administer the programs, which is why they can be included in this total.)

I am getting these #'s directly from the WWP Form 990 FYE 9/30/09 on their website.

If you review the 2009 Annual Report, The WWP uses the AUDITED REPORT for its data, which is misleading.

This is how the WWP can say that they have 81-82% for Functional Expenses.

The AUDITED report (not the actual tax returns filed) ADDs the value of Public Service Announcement air time and Marketing for Public Awareness that was GIVEN (donated) to the WWP to the functional program expense totals. This is what is reported on the BBB website.

Less Than 62% of Cash Donated Goes to Programs

My entire issue is that out of the ACTUAL DOLLARS RECEIVED by the WWP in CASH donations, only 61.7% of THAT money was allocated to programs for the wounded.

(While I have been a tax accountant for over 17 years and stand by my analysis, I am open to others checking my figures.)

Janet's reply:

Tax Accountant, thank you for taking the time to analyze the latest WWP tax returns and share your analysis with our readers.

Because your comments are too important to be missed, I have published your analysis as a separate page, for those who don't wade all the way down through all the comments on our Wounded Warrior Project review.

(If you're considering making a donation to WWP, you will want to read through the reader comments that follow, which describe personal experiences with WWP.)

Thanks again! Please feel free to submit additional veteran charities reviews. We appreciate your expertise, and your time to share it with our readers.

You may also be interested in these related articles:

Veterans Charities Falling Short

Charity Expose: Veterans Charities Missing the Mark.

To see how the various charities fared in the ratings from the American Institute of Philanthropy 2007 report, go to Veterans Charities Ratings.

For a detailed explanation of how the ratings were derived, go to Veterans Charities Ratings Explained.

For our own review of various veteran charities in response to reader inquiries, see the list at the bottom of questions about specific veterans charities.

You may also wish to check the references listed at the bottom of Veterans Charities Ratings to look up information about the charity you're interested in.

Return to top of Wounded Warrior Project 2010 Tax Return Analyzed.

Return to Wounded Warrior Project Info.

Return to Home.

Comments for Wounded Warrior Project Tax Returns Analyzed

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 12, 2016
Percent of donations going to program
by: Maj Roy Elliott USAF RET

I am totally disappointed reading that almost 40 percent of donations going to admin costs [actually, the number is higher than that].

Now I am reading that large parties and other wasted activity are using people's money when it should be going to our wounded heroes.

We need to get a better view of just how the wwp spends the money. The two execs recently fired should be required to pay back for their wasted spending and then run out of the country.

I give around $300 per year to wwp and now I wonder if it's going to parties at lavish hotels. I am disappointed in the organization. How can these people in charge let this go on?

Mar 04, 2016
Disabled Vet helped by WWP
by: Anonymous

They have taken care of myself and my family and they do a lot for vets, everyone I know who is WWP Alumni have no negative feedback.

Other organizations that seem to have a great rating DO NOT reply to any emails that I have sent about how I can join, they also don't have any way to let a disabled vet join their group so I personally do not trust them or their paperwork at all. They make it very easy for you to send money to them but make it extremely hard for any disabled vet to receive help that they claim to provide.

IAVA has it so that vets can easily join. IAVA and the WWP are the only organizations that I know that allow disabled vets to join, the rest don't have any way for a disabled vet to contact them. So, the question is how are they taking care of disabled vets when they refuse to set up a way for a disabled vet to contact them, the VA was able to hide all of their BS for years so what makes these so called organizations any different.

I'm sure that the WWP has it's flaws but they do a lot for disabled vets and are constantly offering events, schooling, retreats that help us take back our lives and over come our disabilities.

Dear Vet, Thank you for your service, and for joining our conversation to share your experiences with Wounded Warrior Project.

Jan 31, 2016
WWP Creating a Monster
by: Don

For My Money, I would much rather give to a real charity such as Fisher House and know that at least 90 cents of every dollar I send to them is going to their main goal, which is supporting veterans and the programs that support those veterans.

When the real story about Wounded Warrior project came out, I'll bet that 90 percent of the good people that sent their hard earned money were in shock. [Only if they happened to see the report.]

It seems as though Wounded Warrior wants to create a behemoth, and doubling their income every year, they pretty much accomplished that. To dump their founder by the side of the road without even giving him the credit he deserves on their web site is telling.

Directing their attorneys to go out and sue all of the other solid charities in America that use the word(s) wounded or warrior in their names is disgraceful. Instead of these little charities giving money to their intended, they had to use it to hire counsel to answer the lawsuits brought by Wounded Warrior Project.

We don't need another Red-Cross-sized Charity in America that was built on deception and fuzzy tax forms. I would love to be a fly on the wall of their executive offices and find out what their real goal is. I would rather see them give 95 percent of ten million dollars rather than 60 percent of one hundred million.

Jan 30, 2016
Support the Vets - Give Somewhere Else
by: ALden

Money n donations r hard to come by in today's day n age so when I give I will send my contributions to organizations that are in the A+ Range so more goes to the Hero's. You can't trust anyone any more.

Dec 14, 2015
WWP Won't Provide Their Financials
by: Anonymous

I requested their financials, twice. It's required to be provided if asked. Apparently they felt I wasn't entitled to it. I don't donate to this organization.

Yes, Anon, the IRS regulations require that any 501(c)(3) charitable organization provide its most recent 3 years' tax returns upon request.
However, we have had very few organizations actually provide them to us when requested.

WWP makes its financials, including its most recent tax return on its site, here.

Jul 15, 2015
Fundraising WWP
by: English/Americanwoman

I received a request in the mail to donate to the Wounded Warriors Project. Having read accounts of how little actually goes to help veterans (64 percent), I decided not to support them.

May 30, 2015
D.A.V. or WW
by: JOHN

I have been donating to DAV for years. A quick web search shows 90%+ returned to veterans. I was disappointed to see such a low return rate for WW. I guess I will keep sending the extra $ to DAV.

Jan 25, 2015
WWP costs of doing business ?
by: Joe Pluff

I you want most of your dollars to go to the Vet. try the Veterans of Foreign Wars, all volunteers no salaries. Try the American Legion, all volunteers. Try the CVMA, all volunteers.

Jan 24, 2015
Review of Tax Return
by: Anonymous

I find that even concidering the "return" they have posted for 2008 is bunk. That return doesn't even have a preparer number on it.

I would only accept and post and review of an IRS stamped transcript. Anyone could have printed that return using any program available.

Anon, You can find the latest tax returns for WWP linked on their site, here. The IRS doesn't provide copies of tax returns for review. The charity is required to provide it.

Dec 31, 2014
I Quit
by: Robert Allocca

No more automatic monthly donation for WWP. This article was extremely enlightening.

The Salvation Army will now get the money.
I believe the CEO gets very little in salary.

I'm saddened that it has come to this. We have had the Constitution stepped, crapped on by our government, especially the president.

Dec 23, 2014
Hog Wash
by: RON

This is just another attack on the Military to divide people.

If our money we send to Washington was used correctly, we wouldn't need a wounded warrior project to help our people.

Thank GOD we can still help those that need help. Have a Merry Christmas.

Hi Ron, I'm not sure what you're referring to as an attack on our military to divide people, but you're right about it being the government's responsibility to take care of our veterans.

Dec 15, 2014
As of Now, a Former Donor
by: Anonymous

I had always thought WWP had a much higher percentage going to the cause. I will not be donating here again. It will begin to go to Fisher House Charities.

What a disappointment I feel and all those high paid people taking from what was to go for help to Wounded Warriors, shame, shame. You will receive your just reward.

Makes me feel as if I've been used.

Anon, we highly recommend Fisher House Charities. You may be interested to learn more about generous Patriots Zach & Elizabeth Fisher, who founded Fisher House.

Nov 10, 2014
Charity Isn't Free Enterprise
by: Anonymous

Gee, Anonymous, it's no wonder you're ashamed to identify yourself. I hope you don't kiss your mama with that mouth.

Your comments have been deleted, because they were abusive and inappropriate. If you can figure out how to communicate with words longer than 4 letters, I'll consider publishing your comments. In the meantime, take that garbage somewhere else.

Nov 14, 2013
So What?
by: Captain43

So what you are saying is that they spend too much to raise money for the vets?

OK, let's assume they cut WAY back on their marketing, which is always the biggest expense in raising money. That means much less TV ads and other ads that create revenue. That means that they will bring in much less total funding. So, instead of giving over $16 million to our wounded vets, they might only donate $8 million to their welfare.

Does that REALLY make sense? Listen folks, I don't know who comes up with a formula to determine what is fair to spend raising money, but they need to re-assess the costs involved. National TV air time with Trace Adkins isn't cheap.

I pledge to the WWP and will continue to do so. As far as salaries go, check out ANY large company that has $26 million in sales and the CEO will always make a good salary... it's called free enterprise. The stockholders (donors) don't begrudge the executive salaries (for the most part) because this talent is responsible for the high revenue stream.

Captain, if you've read my earlier comments in this thread, you'll see that I agree with you about the salaries - they may be on the high side, but I don't think they're out of line.

As for the TV spots with Trace Adkins and others, I don't know for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that both the air time and the celebrity's time is donated.

Your argument is exactly the one that is used by charities to justify their expensive fundraising. And I hear what you're saying - in your example, $16 mil is $8 mil more than they may have brought in otherwise.

But as a donor, donating to help vets, don't you want the vast majority of your money going to ACTUALLY help vets, not make a profit for some greedy fundraiser? Those are FOR-PROFIT fundraisers.

Most donors don't want nearly half (or more, in the case of some other charities) of every donated dollar going to an outside company's profit - they want it used for the purpose for which it was donated - helping vets.

And no, it's not absolutely necessary to use direct mail or telephone solicitations to raise money. Fisher House and her sister organizations are good examples of that.

They don't use those types of fundraising, but Fisher House still managed to raise nearly $50 million in 2012. Their fundraising expense was just $587,116, or just over 1%.

The amount that went to program services? 90%, and that's after subtracting the amounts attributed to program expenses for salaries and payroll expenses, and for "education and promotion," which could be argued to be fundraising efforts.

Maybe the other charities just need to take lessons from Fisher House President David Coker?

Sep 08, 2013
My single comment
by: Anonymous

As a WWII vet of 4 yrs on CG Norlant convoys, I've been sending $20 a mo to WW for a year. I noticed that they took a long time to cash some of my checks and figured if they didn't go to the bank daily, they were being remiss and sloppy, and I told them so, without any rejoinder.

One of my checks wasn't cashed until the following month and screwed up my budget, which was irritating.

Your report showing 65% return to WW vets is my heads-up to cut off my donations, and look for something more responsible.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Veterans Charities Questions.

If you didn't find what you're looking for, use the search bar below to search the site:

Connect With Us

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Subscribe to our e-mail updates Subscribe to our RSS feed

As Seen In

Newest Articles