Charity Review

  • Issued: January 2017
  • Expires: May 2019

Wounded Warrior Project

Accredited Charity

Meets Standards


4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Accredited Charity


4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Accredited Charity

Accredited Charity

Meets Standards

Standards For Charity Accountability


  1. Board Oversight

    Standard 1 (Oversight of Operations and Staff)

    Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Board Size

    Standard 2 (Number of Board Members)

    Soliciting organizations shall have a board of directors with a minimum of five voting members.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Board Meetings

    Standard 3 (Frequency and Attendance of Board Meetings)

    An organization shall have a minimum of three evenly spaced meetings per year of the full governing body with a majority in attendance, with face-to-face participation. A conference call of the full board can substitute for one of the three meetings of the governing body. For all meetings, alternative modes of participation are acceptable for those with physical disabilities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Board Compensation

    Standard 4 (Compensated Board Members)

    Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board's chair or treasurer.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Conflict of Interest

    Standard 5 (Conflict of Interest)

    No transaction(s) in which any board or staff members have material conflicting interests with the charity resulting from any relationship or business affiliation. Factors that will be considered when concluding whether or not a related party transaction constitutes a conflict of interest and if such a conflict is material, include, but are not limited to: any arm's length procedures established by the charity; the size of the transaction relative to like expenses of the charity; whether the interested party participated in the board vote on the transaction; if competitive bids were sought and whether the transaction is one-time, recurring or ongoing.

    The organization meets this standard.

Measuring Effectiveness

  1. Effectiveness Policy

    Standard 6 (Board Policy on Effectiveness)

    Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Effectiveness Report

    Standard 7 (Board Approval of Written Report on Effectiveness)

    Submit to the organization's governing body, for its approval, a written report that outlines the results of the aforementioned performance and effectiveness assessment and recommendations for future actions.

    The organization meets this standard.


  1. Program Expenses

    Standard 8 (Program Service Expense Ratio)

    Spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program activities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Fundraising Expenses

    Standard 9 (Fund Raising Expense Ratio)

    Spending should be no more than 35% of related contributions on fund raising. Related contributions include donations, legacies, and other gifts received as a result of fund raising efforts.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Accumulating Funds

    Standard 10 (Ending Net Assets)

    Avoid accumulating funds that could be used for current program activities. To meet this standard, the charity's unrestricted net assets available for use should not be more than three times the size of the past year's expenses or three times the size of the current year's budget, whichever is higher.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Audit Report

    Standard 11 (Financial Statements)

    Make available to all, on request, complete annual financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. When total annual gross income exceeds $500,000, these statements should be audited in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $500,000, a review by a certified public accountant is sufficient to meet this standard. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $250,000, an internally produced, complete financial statement is sufficient to meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Detailed Expense Breakdown

    Standard 12 (Detailed Functional Breakdown of Expenses)

    Include in the financial statements a breakdown of expenses (e.g., salaries, travel, postage, etc.) that shows what portion of these expenses was allocated to program, fund raising, and administrative activities. If the charity has more than one major program category, the schedule should provide a breakdown for each category.

    The organization meets this standard.

  6. Accurate Expense Reporting

    Standard 13 (Accuracy of Expenses in Financial Statements)

    Accurately report the charity's expenses, including any joint cost allocations, in its financial statements. For example, audited or unaudited statements which inaccurately claim zero fund raising expenses or otherwise understate the amount a charity spends on fund raising, and/or overstate the amount it spends on programs will not meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  7. Budget Plan

    Standard 14 (Budget)

    Have a board-approved annual budget for its current fiscal year, outlining projected expenses for major program activities, fund raising, and administration.

    The organization meets this standard.

Fundraising & Info

  1. Truthful Materials

    Standard 15 (Misleading Appeals)

    Have solicitations and informational materials, distributed by any means, that are accurate, truthful and not misleading, both in whole and in part. Appeals that omit a clear description of program(s) for which contributions are sought will not meet this standard. A charity should also be able to substantiate that the timing and nature of its expenditures are in accordance with what is stated, expressed, or implied in the charity's solicitations.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Annual Report

    Standard 16 (Annual Report)

    Have an annual report available to all, on request, that includes: (a) the organization's mission statement, (b) a summary of the past year's program service accomplishments, (c) a roster of the officers and members of the board of directors, (d) financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Website Disclosures

    Standard 17 (Web Site Disclosures)

    Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Donor Privacy

    Standard 18 (Privacy for Written Appeals & Internet Privacy)

    Address privacy concerns of donors by (a) providing in written appeals, at least annually, a means (e.g., such as a check off box) for both new and continuing donors to inform the charity if they do not want their name and address shared outside the organization, (b) providing a clear, prominent and easily accessible privacy policy on any of its websites that tells visitors (i) what information, if any, is being collected about them by the charity and how this information will be used, (ii) how to contact the charity to review personal information collected and request corrections, (iii) how to inform the charity (e.g., a check off box) that the visitor does not wish his/her personal information to be shared outside the organization, and (iv) what security measures the charity has in place to protect personal information.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Cause Marketing Disclosures

    Standard 19 (Cause Related Marketing)

    Clearly disclose how the charity benefits from the sale of products or services (i.e., cause-related marketing) that state or imply that a charity will benefit from a consumer sale or transaction. Such promotions should disclose, at the point of solicitation: (a) the actual or anticipated portion of the purchase price that will benefit the charity (e.g., 5 cents will be contributed to abc charity for every xyz company product sold), (b) the duration of the campaign (e.g., the month of October), (c) any maximum or guaranteed minimum contribution amount (e.g., up to a maximum of $200,000).

    The organization meets this standard.

  6. Complaints

    Standard 20 (Complaints)

    Respond promptly to and act on complaints brought to its attention by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and/or local Better Business Bureaus about fund raising practices, privacy policy violations and/or other issues.

    The organization meets this standard.


Wounded Warrior Project meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.


In completing this evaluation, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) requested detailed information from the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and asked numerous questions regarding public allegations that emerged in early 2016. WWP was cooperative in responding to these requests and provided BBB WGA with extensive materials and exhibits. WWP's board commissioned an independent third party review of the allegations that was conducted by a law firm and an accounting firm. WWP indicates that the independent parties did not produce a written report of their review. However, at BBB WGA's request, BBB WGA met with WWP's board chair as well as a representative of the law firm that conducted the review, and were provided information about the findings of the review. In reaching these conclusions, BBB WGA reviewed and considered WWP's programs, finances, governance, and fund raising practices.

The public allegations regarding WWP's practices centered around four areas: spending practices, governance, program expense ratio, and fund raising practices.

Spending Practices

BBB WGA worked closely with WWP to review the organization's policies and practices with regards to travel, and meetings. WWP reports that less than 1% of the number of paid flights booked for employee travel were in first or domestic business-class over the past 3 years and the remaining flights were in coach class. In addition, the organization strengthened policies and controls regarding travel and the purchase of plane tickets including controls to its online travel booking system to prevent employees from booking paid first class or paid domestic business class flights and an alert system when airfare or hotel costs exceed a certain level.

With regards to meetings and conferences spending, BBB WGA found the organization's spending to be consistent with its programs and mission. With regards to the organization's 2014 All Hands Huddle, BBB WGA found that the organization had spent less than $1,000,000 on the conference (less than the $3,000,000 reported in the media) and that amounted to less than $440 per day for the five day training for 415 staff members including hotel, food, travel and conference costs. WWP provided details of expenses and expense areas to demonstrate that there was no evidence of lavish spending.

Governance and Oversight

BBB WGA worked closely with WWP to verify that the organization had policies and procedures in place to handle employee complaints. These included a whistleblower policy and employee knowledge of and access to a third-party anonymous complaint line. WWP demonstrated that the number and nature of the complaints lodged through the complaint line did not rise to the level of board action. WWP explained that most complaints are reported through managers, legal and human resources departments, and that serious complaints are referred to the human resources departments for investigation, involving the legal department as appropriate. In addition, the organization shared with us 2011-2015 anonymous aggregated response data from workplace satisfaction surveys conducted of its employees and compiled by a third party. For each of those years, the third party awarded WWP recognition as being one of the best non profit places to work. In addition, WWP has taken additional steps regarding the training of employees on their existing and strengthened policies and the use of resources such as the third-party anonymous complaint line.

Program Expense Ratio

BBB WGA worked closely with WWP to review its program expense ratio. It appears that the public allegations had attributed all of the organization's joint-cost allocations to fund raising which lowered the program expense ratio. With regards to joint-cost allocations, BBB WGA follows generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Statement of Position 98-2 permits a charity, under certain conditions, to report a portion of appeal expenses as a public education program expense and a portion as a fund raising expense. To verify the organization's program-expense ratio, BBB WGA reviewed the organization's joint-cost allocated appeals against the reported joint-cost allocations in the organization's audited financial statements and found them to be in compliance with AICPA SOP 98-2.

Fund Raising Practices

BBB WGA worked closely with WWP to review its fund raising practices. After reviewing the organization's appeals used in the past year, BBB WGA found no evidence of inaccurate or misleading characterizations of the programs they were funding. In addition, BBB WGA found that WWP's website included statistics on their programs and beneficiaries served.


Number of complaints processed by the BBB in the last 36 months: 3

Mailing List Removal

The organization addressed the complaint issues brought to its attention: 3

The organization did not address the complaint issues brought to its attention: 0


  • Year, State Incorporated

    2005, VA

  • Affiliates

    Wounded Warrior Project Long Term Support Trust

  • Stated Purpose

    to honor and empower Wounded Warriors.


WWP reports that through interactive programs, outdoor rehabilitative retreats, peer support, and professional services, veterans are given the tools to maintain healthy, meaningful relationships with family and friends, and pursue life goals without the barriers or stigmas associated with mental health issues. The organization conducts programs that involve adaptive sports, health, nutrition, and recreational activities that target veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 (warriors) and their families. WWP offers higher education programs, information technology training, and employment assistance services to encourage economic empowerment for warriors to provide long-term financial stability for themselves and their families. To ensure injured service members stay connected with one another, the organization has both a peer mentoring and an Alumni program. Additionally, the Policy and Government affairs program works to ensure that injured warriors and their families have a voice in local and national advocacy and legislative issues. WWP also offers a benefits service program that provides access to government benefits and details on all of the organizations programs and community resources. The organization reports that its Alumni program had 78,639 warriors and 13,730 family members registered as of September 30, 2015 and that they received 50,603 inbound contacts to their resource center, and staff conducted approximately 77,000 out bound outreach calls to warriors and caregivers during fiscal year 2015. WWP reports that in fiscal year 2015 there were 2,668 participants in its outdoor rehabilitative retreats and that the organization served 2,879 individuals through continued care services to improve warrior resiliency and psychological well-being. The organization reports that its physical health and wellness program reached 18,052 participants in fiscal year 2015. WWP reports that 8,698 warriors and family members participated in the warriors to work program, with 2,555 participants placed in part-time or full-time employment in fiscal year 2015.Some ($47,148,553, or 15%) of WWP's program activities are carried out in conjunction with fund raising appeals.

For the year ended September 30, 2015, Wounded Warrior Project's program expenses were:

Benefit services $13,532,202
Alumni $77,262,412
International support $6,019,629
Peer support $8,763,994
Combat stress recovery $60,869,292
WWP Packs $3,805,045
Physical health and wellness $25,218,804
Soldier ride $34,928,798
Independence program $28,480,259
WWP Talk $3,108,026
Warriors to Work $17,113,156
Transition training academy $14,335,233
TRACK $10,732,462
Education services $2,642,657
Warriors Speak $1,903,198
Total Program Expenses: $308,715,167

Governance & Staff

  • Chief Executive

    Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, U.S. Army (Ret), Chief Executive Officer

  • Compensation*

  • Chair of the Board

    Anthony K. Odierno

  • Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation

    Executive Director of Military and Veterans Affairs, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

  • Board Size


  • Paid Staff Size


*2016 compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances. Note: Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, U.S. Army (Ret) was hired by the organization as Chief Executive Officer on 7/18/16 at a base salary of $280,000. Steven Nardizzi served as Chief Executive Officer until 3/10/16, earning $457,839 in 2015.


Method(s) Used:

Direct mail, telemarketing, special events, television and radio appeals, grant proposals, Internet appeals, planned giving, cause-related marketing, and membership appeals.

WWP incurred joint costs of $77,332,639 for informational materials and activities that included fund raising materials. Of those costs $47,148,553 was allocated to program expenses, and $30,154,086 was allocated to fund raising expenses.

Fundraising costs were 15% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $485,153,062, are donations received as a result of fundraising activities.)

Tax Status

This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.


The following information is based on Wounded Warrior Project's audited financial statements - consolidated for the year ended September 30, 2015.

Source of Funds
Contributions $381,057,907
In-kind contributions $104,095,155
Interest income and dividends, net of investment fees $5,764,691
Miscellaneous income, net $1,915,564
Net realized and unrealized loss on investments ($8,964,622)
Total Income $483,868,695
  • Programs: 77%
  • Fundraising: 19%
  • Administrative: 4%
Total Income $483,868,695
Program expenses $308,715,167
Fundraising expenses $74,078,845
Administrative expenses $15,495,026
Other expenses $0
Total expenses: $398,289,038
Income in Excess of Expenses $85,579,657
Beginning Net Assets $285,770,545
Other Changes In Net Assets $0
Ending Net Assets $371,350,202
Total Liabilities $28,157,233
Total Assets $399,507,435

Note: According to the organization's audited financial statements for the year ended September 30, 2015, WWP received in-kind contributions totaling $104,095,155, in the form of public service announcements ($88,533,221), advertising and promotion ($10,401,507), property and equipment ($788,105), event tickets ($603,264), discounts ($552,802), and other ($3,216,256).

An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

This report is not to be used for fundraising or promotional purposes.