Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wounded Warrior Project Starting Anew

by Gary Snyder

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is beginning its long process of rehabilitation. WWP’s new CEO recently announced that an undisclosed number of the charity’s 600 employees would be laid off, funding for smaller veterans organizations will be cut back, and some of the executives’ salaries will be reduced. Details will be released in September.
When the New York Times and CBS News exposed lavish spending and other offenses at WWP earlier this year, the story surged as other veterans organizations distanced themselves from WWP, a PR firm was hired to manage the crisis, the board took the reins, the former leadership was fired, and Iowa’s Senator Grassley opened his investigation. 
This transition in leadership and organizational culture follows an intense period of growth for WWP. Founded in 2003 in the basement of Marine Corps veteran John Melia, WWP grew rapidly after Steven Nardizzi (not a veteran) took over in 2009. By 2013, WWP was raising more than $300 million a year. Complaints arose that WWP had become the “neighborhood bully” among veterans groups, suing to guard its fundraising brand. WWP fought with charity rating agencies and others that did not condone its aggressive fundraising spending and tactics. When investigative news reports emerged about WWP’s internal workings, peers, donors, and the general public were ready to believe what they read.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington became CEO of Wounded Warrior Project in June. A year before, Linnington became the director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the military agency that searches for and identifies the remains of missing servicemen. Before that, he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. (nonprofitquarterly)



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