JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Wounded Warrior Project says it will soldier on and that the future is bright, despite a reported drop of $77 million in donations in its most recent fiscal year, from 2014 to 2015.
"Certainly it's all attributable to those events," said Chief Financial Officer Eric Miller on Thursday, referring to accusations in 2016 that the charity, founded to help post-9/11 veterans, had spent lavishly on events that didn't benefit the very people it aimed to aid. That scandal led to the dismissal of top executives Steven Nardizzi and Al Giordano.
Miller went on to say that, despite years of steady growth, the donation drop was in line with projections, given the scandal.
"We made our adjustments, and everything has turned out okay because now we're growing," Miller said. "We're actually adding employees. In fact, some of the folks that we had to let go are coming back to us, which is always a great indication, so we're definitely in a growth mode".
The CFO is stopping short of making predictions about Wounded Warrior Project's current fiscal year, but is expressing optimism about the future.
"I think we'll get back to that [growth] trend, you know, within the next year or two," he said. "We may not get back to the historical levels that quickly, but we'll absolutely be on a growth trajectory."
Asked what message he might want to convey to people still reluctant to resume donating to Wounded Warrior Project, Miller made three points: The charity is back in the good graces of the Better Business Bureau, it is extremely healthy financially, and that the focus on helping veterans will continue, because the need continues.
"The American public has been extremely gracious and generous in providing those funds, and we're making sure that we're optimizing them, providing efficient programs that really help these men and women who deserve to be honored and empowered," Miller concluded.
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