I’ve been wary of the Wounded Warrior Project charity group. Now, we have confirmation of our skepticism: The charity organizations watchdog Charity Navigator has put Wounded Warrior Project on its watch list.
Tim Mak reports for The Daily Beast, January 29, 2016:
Charity Navigator, a leading charitable sector watchdog, put the veterans group Wounded Warrior Project on its donor “watchlist,” indicating to its audience that there are troubling allegations against the organization that contributors should be aware of.
The Daily Beast has been reporting on the excesses of the Wounded Warrior Project since September 2014, with a series of stories on its high overhead costs and its penchant for bullying smaller charities with the term “wounded warrior” in their name. Wounded Warrior Project CEO Steven Nardizzi has also been part of an effort to increase charitable sector executive salaries and have larger fundraising costs.
“Placing a charity on the Watchlist is a way of letting donors know that there is an issue of concern that they should take into account before they donate to that charity,” Sandra Miniutti, a vice president at Charity Navigator, told The Daily Beast. “We have a committee that meets each week. They review the information that has come to our attention about a particular charity and determine if it should be placed on the Watchlist, Donor Advisory list, or neither.”
In addition to the warning issued by Charity Navigator, CBS News and The New York Times report that dozens of former Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) employees have complained of lavish spending and waste.
In 2014, WWP received more than $300 million in donations but only spent roughly 60% of that on veterans. In contrast, other respected charities for wounded veterans, like the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust and Fisher House, reportedly spent more than 90% of their donations on vets.
While WWP has grown dramatically in funds raised and staff employed, it has also posted extravagant administrative costs. As an example, Nardizzi, a lawyer whose salary as CEO was close to a half a million dollars in 2014, rappelled from a 10-story building during a staff conference at a five-star hotel.
Donald Trump is also wary of the Wounded Warrior Project and excluded the organization from the beneficiaries of his evening veterans event. Trump told CBS reporter John Dickerson, “We saw some bad stories about them, and until we find out what’s going on, we said, maybe we’d better take that one off the list.”
On March, 2016, CBS News says Wounded Warrior Project fired Steven Nardizzi and Al Giordano. The latter was WWP’s chief operating officer.
H/t John Molloy