I sit here at my laptop semi-heartbroken writing this. So forgive me now for a few tangents that we might go on together on this edition of Fat Guys’ Rants. I am venturing into two areas that are so profound to me that when they merge I see it as a glorious event… for the most part. Those issues are Public Non-Profit and Veterans’ Rights/Care.
I am a HUGE proponent of Veterans’ Rights/Care. Today, we see a lot of media coverage (not near enough for my tastes) about Vets who need help, not getting enough help, or getting help. Houses, jobs, counseling, prosthetic limbs, cars, and a laundry list of other things. When I see something in the media surrounding these issues, I read it and do my best to share it, good or bad! For every positive article about a Veteran getting help there are two stories about Vets who are in dire need of something. EITHER WAY, there is press coverage that I feel we all need to be aware of.
A vast majority of the negative stories we hear about are centered on the Veterans Administration and their downfalls and issues. A vast majority of positive stories are focused on non-profit causes and organizations that have stepped up to fill the gaps that are being caused by governmental and societal breakdowns. I work in the non-profit world, so I am pretty aware of the ins and outs of how these organizations operate and report their successes.
So today a reader of our blog sent me an article and asked my opinion on it. The article was published by The New York Times and written by Dave Phillips. Here is a link to it: http://tinyurl.com/jdowxch (I created a tiny URL for it). The title of the article is “Wounded Warrior Program Spends Lavishly on Itself, Insiders Say.” I actually hesitated opening the article because I didn’t want to see what Mr. Phillips wrote and when I finally did click on it, I was dead set to disagree with what he wrote before I read one word. I read it… a couple of times…and now I am the definition of “torn.”
The article highlights some of the perceived crazy spending that this organization (WWP) does; $7,000 on last minute flights to Germany, 500 employees staying in a 5-star hotel for a corporate retreat, business class flights for minor meetings, and $500 per night hotel rooms just to name a few. Mr. Phillips also disclosed that the CEO made $473,000 in 2014. Another part of the article was focused on the employees who were dismissed for what the employees said were less than fair reasons or for minor issues.
What strikes me to the core is that WWP spends 40% of their income on overhead/administrative costs. In 2011 Charity Watch gave WWP a rating of D and has not given them a rating of C or higher. That is an issue that bothers me, and I want more information on. Anyone can look up the financials of WWP or any 501c3 for that matter. For WWP go to http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/media/879225/2014_form-990_wwp.pdf and it is all right there, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
I am not bothered by the $400,000+ salary of the CEO. I would think we would be hard pressed to find a CEO in the private sector that has the budget volume ($342mil in 2013), employees and responsibilities that WWP has under $500,000. I am worried about two issues that the article brings up… the 40% overhead and that the CEO wants this non-profit to “run like Starbucks. It is NOT Starbucks, and please do not lose sight of the mission and focus more on the fundraising. The article suggests that WWP is greatly out of balance in this area.
I have always been wary of any 501c3 non-profit who has admin costs more than 20%. I just do not see the justification of it. I can now see that some part of the 40% is being spent on defending that they spend 40% on admin/overhead on PR and lobbyists! This seems like a “rabbit hole” that should be an issue to anyone who gives to WWP.
Now with all of that, I have to think of the mission. “To Honor and Empower Wounded Veterans” That seems simple enough. WWP does a LOT of amazing things. They have programs that never existed 10 years ago and help fund hundreds of other organizations and endeavors that have the same mission. Would the world be better off without WWP? Absolutely NOT. Could they “honor” the men and women that they help every day by being far more judicious of their spending? Absolutely YES.
What is “Good’Nuff” when it comes to the dollars we give to non-profits to help with causes that we are passionate about? Is it ok to know that they spend 40 cents of every dollar on what seems to be lavish perks when we all know that there is FAR more that is needed in this segment of our community? I do not think it is. “Good’Nuff” is NOT what needs to happen with the dollars that we give. “Good’Nuff” is NOT what we expect.
I have given to WWP in the past. I have given my time and money to WWP. I still want to, but I need you guys to be dedicated to honoring us as well. Honor us by giving us the peace of mind that the monies that we give to are used the right way. Be ethical, diligent and disciplined. Do not be “Good”Nuff” with your mission. Keep doing what you are doing… only better. Please.