Wounded Warrior Project, and the “A Little Too Broken” giving plan

Well, I called it in September 2014 when I cut WWP out of my donations from A Little Too Broken royalties. I knew then something was fishy:


But I had no idea of the waste and bureaucratic self-preservation at the top:

But as donations poured in, many former employees say the group became wasteful.

“People could spend money on the most ridiculous thing and no one batted an eye,” said Connie Chapman, who was in charge of the charity’s Seattle office for two years. “I would fly to New York for less than a day to report to my supervisor.”

All staff members flying to the charity’s office at a military hospital in Germany traveled in business class, employees said. One current employee said her last-minute ticket cost $7,000.

Mr. Nardizzi fired Ms. Chapman, an Iraq veteran with PTSD, in 2012 as part of a “management restructuring,” she said.

By 2014, the group was spending $7.5 million per year on travel, according to tax forms.

The Wounded Warrior Project asserts that it spends 80 percent of donations on programs, but former employees and charity watchdogs say the charity inflates its number by using practices such as counting some marketing materials as educational…

In 2014, the Wounded Warrior Project lobbied in California and Florida to fight proposals that would have required nonprofits to increase financial transparency. Both bills passed in amended forms that did not significantly affect the charity, Mr. Nardizzi said.

Also around that time, the group hired the global public relations firm Edelman, which has represented Starbucks, Walmart, Shell and Philip Morris, to improve public perception of the charity and its overhead spending…

The same push for numbers hit a program that brings wounded veterans together for social events. Former staff members said they had less time to develop therapeutic programs and so relied on giving veterans tickets to concerts and sporting events. To fill seats, they often invited the same veterans.

“If the same warrior attends six different events, you could record that as six warriors served,” said Renee Humphrey, who oversaw alumni outreach in Southern California for about four years. “You had the same few guys who loved going to free events.”

Ms. Humphrey, an Iraq veteran with PTSD, was fired in 2013. Her termination was so abrupt that her work phone and credit card were shut off while she was leading an event.

And so on…

The portion of ALTB giving that I’d sent to WWP was $770 when I cut them off, subbing Puppies Behind Bars in their place (prisoners train service dogs for vets) and keeping IAVA. So yeah, I’m depressed. That’s $770 that went to pay for 1/10th of a first class plane ticket…

I love Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. They don’t send me calendars and stickers and magnets and flags and stamps. They don’t bombard me with direct mailings (that cost a fortune to produce, when you factor in purchased mailing lists, copy writers, designers, etc.). They just…do their fucking job. They spend the money on what I give them to do with it: help veterans.

Both IAVA and Puppies Behind Bars are four-star-rated on CharityNavigator.org, the highest rating. Meaning, transparency, accountability, % spent on services v. overhead, etc.

And I’ll tell you, I’ve been wrestling with what to do with the income, if any, from the ALTB audiobook. (Shit fuckity if someone adds the audio version as “Whispersync” to their previously purchased ebook, I don’t get $8 on a $20 audiobook, I get like $0.80 on the $2 add-on price. That’s gonna suck…) Do I keep giving 50% of that too? 50% of movie rights, should that ever happen? (It would make a hell of a movie!) Or just stay with the book royalties?

More to the point, can I afford to? I’m basically living on credit right now while I dig myself out of the financial hole I got into last year, writing “me” projects that didn’t sell.

It’s a tough call, but this is the one I’ve made. Yes, I’m going to keep donating 50% of income from the audiobook as well.

BUT. It’s got to be done on that “rich-old-crocodile-gives-his-Picassos-to-the-museum-but-not-yet” model. In other words, I’m going to keep count of audiobook royalties, and “defer giving” that 50% until I’m out of the hole I’m in now. Every month I’ll still pack off the ebook $, but the audio $ will be “on credit,” to be paid when Yours Truly is finally crowned Emperor of Everything and, like Chairman Mao, my subjects must all buy my Little Red Book. Or when, you know, the credit card bills are paid off and I’m solvent. Either one will do.

2 Comments on Wounded Warrior Project, and the “A Little Too Broken” giving plan

  1. You are a class act. I gave a little extra myself to IAVA in December. Never heard of them until I read your book. You inspired me to do my part, and every little bit helps.

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