The Wounded Warrior Project has recently been accused of spending only 60% of its income on programs for veterans. It has been alleged that the other 40% goes to overhead, like travel, lavish functions, and so forth. In contrast, other veterans’ organizations devote much smaller percentages of their budgets to overhead, for example, the Semper Fi Fund, who spend only 8%.
In addition to their budgeting issues, some of the services the Wounded Warrior Project offers have been called into question, as being only short-term solutions or for not focusing on the real issues. For example, they have no direct programs for mental health, they merely refer people seeking help for mental health issues to other organizations.
These are really good points, but this nonprofit is not the only one who has these issues. In fact, many nonprofits, especially larger ones, have this problem. We see discussions around the CEOs of certain nonprofits making too much money compared to other workers in the organizations. We have seen places that mismanage their funds for promotion or advertising. Or, we see that fundraiser money can be used for nonessential programs such as parties, events, etc.
“We have to keep our nonprofits accountable….Funding models need to change because numbers don’t always mean effectiveness. Organizations need to be transparent to their employees, other groups, their constituents, and funders.”
Last but not least, some organizations dedicate too much funding to a program that only touches on one problem or solution. We can see this in issues such as treating cancer but not helping the patients’ psychological or emotional issues, or working to cure something but offering little support for those who are affected already. The list of organizations that have done this is long, including the Susan G. Komen foundation, Goodwill Industries, the United Way, Wounded Warrior Project, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, Autism Speaks, and many others.
This means that we have to keep our nonprofits accountable. First, let me say that it is not that nonprofits cannot spend money on their employees or have retreats. They should, but it has to be within the goal of serving the purpose of the nonprofit and the people who they are supposed to be helping. As well, funding models need to change because numbers don’t always mean effectiveness. Organizations need to be transparent to their employees, other groups, their constituents, and funders.
Founder of Jason’s Connection – an online resource for those with disabilities, mental health, aging and other needs. Jason was awarded an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Jason is also a Project Coordinator and Research Associate at the Burton Blatt Institute, an international think tank for Disability Rights and Human Justice at Syracuse University. He regularly contributes to the blog in his own series called Jason’s View and travels the country consulting and speaking about disability issues and rights. To read more from Jason Harris, read Jason's View.