Local agency questions Wounded Warrior Project donations

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SAN DIEGO – A local agency that reviews nonprofits for helping our military gave the Wounded Warrior Project a failing grade, saying the charity is misappropriating a lot of money donated for wounded veterans and their families.

“Their commercials are certainly compelling. They make Americans more aware of the situations that are faced and the challenges that are faced by wounded veterans and their families,” said Greg Hillgren.

Hillgren runs The Patriots Initiative, a group that evaluates more than 300 nonprofits serving the military, including the Wounded Warrior Project, which has a number of programs to help veterans, including a surfing school.

“We’ve actually evaluated them for approximately four years,” Hillgren said. “Each and every year, the Wounded Warrior Project has fallen way short in terms of the benchmarks that, in our opinion, would be considered best practices and would be necessary for being considered one of the best nonprofits serving our armed forces.”

Hillgren appreciates what the nonprofit is doing, but does not like how they are spending money intended for wounded veterans and their families.

“They should be far more efficient,” Hillgren said. “In all of our evaluations, at least 40 percent of every donated dollar is going to cover overhead and not going to the cause. They should be cutting down those expenses dramatically and driving far more dollars directly to the needs.”

Hillgren says at the most, the nonprofit should be spending 20 percent of its money on salaries, overhead and marketing.

“We may look at them again in a few years but we’re going to need to see several consecutive years of changed behavior and better fiscal performance,” Hillgren said. “The Wounded Warrior Project people have good intentions. We just think that they need to raise their game. They need to do a better job.”

The Wounded Warrior Project released a statement to FOX 5, which said they are not familiar with The Patriots Initiative, and certainly don’t agree with its findings. The nonprofit also said 80 percent of money it gets help pay for 20 programs that benefit veterans and their families.

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