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With each and every $15 sponsorship, we place a wreath on the grave of a fallen U.S. veteran.
When you donate to WAA your money sponsors a veteran's wreath first, and we operate on the small margin remaining.
- $0.86 of every dollar donated goes toward wreath sponsorships, shipping costs not covered by our trucking partners, fundraising group paybacks, and other program related costs.
- Total WAA nationwide staff less than 30 full-time employees. Executive Director and Chairman of the Board are volunteers.
- National Wreaths Across America Day and other events are made possible by thousands of volunteers who organize local ceremonies, raise funds to sponsor wreaths and participate in the events. Individual wreath sponsors and corporate donors, pay for the majority of the cost for the program and volunteer truck drivers and trucking companies make it possible for WAA to transport wreaths all over the country.
WAA Annual Information
Please note that since Wreaths Across America is on a fiscal year and not a calendar year, the 990s listed below will have the beginning of the fiscal year as the tax return year (i.e. June 30, 2017 will show as 2016 990).
Click to Download 990s Below:
Please note, anyone wishing to read about the difference between Wreaths Across America, the national non-profit organization and Worcester Wreath Company, can read more here.
How do I know Wreaths Across America is a charity worthy of my support?
Wreaths Across America was started as a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2007, over 15 years after the first wreaths were donated to Arlington National Cemetery (1992) by Morrill Worcester and the Worcester Wreath Company.
In fact, WAA was formed as an organization in response to the call from individuals around the country who heard about the wreaths being donated to honor veterans, and who expressed an interest to support the efforts at Arlington and to bring the Arlington wreath experience to their own communities.
In the last ten years, WAA has grown by leaps and bounds, with over 1,600 participating locations nationwide, more than 2,500 fundraising groups and in 2016 placed over a million wreaths in total—all in the mission to Remember the fallen; Honor those who serve (and their families); and Teach our children about the high cost of the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.
When you give $15 to sponsor a wreath, you will know exactly where those dollars are going, and that a veteran who gave his or her service, or even made the ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.
“Remember this.... In truth a person dies twice, once when he stops breathing, and a second time when somebody mentions his or her name for the last time. Join us in December when over one million volunteers nationwide, will say the names of a million fallen out loud, to make sure they will never be forgotten.”— Karen Worcester, Executive Director of Wreaths Across America
Best Practice and Oversight
Early in 2016 WAA engaged a high profile legal firm, Venable LLP, to do a legal review of WAA’s practices and policies to ensure that WAA’s mission is always carried out in full compliance of all legal and best practice policies.
Although Venable found no improprieties in WAA’s operations, the firm did recommend several items to comply with best practices in nonprofit operations. As a result, we have made improvements in both control policies and updated our web pages to provide even more transparency by adding a Whistle Blower Policy (implemented in 2017) and to directly address concerns about the connection between WAA and Worcester Wreath Company. The truth is, having WAA as a customer has not been a profitable endeavor for Worcester Wreath Company, as evidenced by the company’s accountants’ statements provided to the WAA Board. However, WAA does not want misconceptions about this relationship to undermine its charitable focus.
Additionally, In 2016, the WAA board formed an RFP Committee and began the process for the 2017-2019 contract. This process was developed with advice from legal counsel and under the direction of an experienced RFP writer. The criteria for the RFP is based on the specific needs of and in the best interest of WAA. The process is outlined here.
Is this another non-profit organization run by executives receiving big salaries?
Wreaths Across America is very proud of its heritage as a grassroots organization that was formed in response to the request from volunteers all across the country. The administrative costs are less than 13%, with $.86 of every dollar going to program related costs.
Neither the Executive Director (Karen Worcester) nor the Chairman of the Board (Wayne Hanson) receive a salary for their efforts, despite full time work and deep commitment to the mission.
You can learn more about our financial disclosures on this page.
How much does Wreaths Across America make with each sponsored wreath?
Each sponsored wreath costs $15, with $5 being allowed to the fundraising program that is paid back to our many fundraising partners including Legion Posts, VFW’s and Auxiliaries, Civil Air Patrol Squadrons, school groups, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and other national non-profits like Easter Seals.
The remaining $10 procures the wreath, delivered to a participating location, and funds Wreaths Across America in its year-round mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach. Each wreath is a hand made (what they call mail-order quality) wreath using domestically grown balsam fir, and hand-crafted right here in the United States. The wholesale market price for an equivalent wreath is $12-15 per wreath. It is intentional that a highest quality wreath was chosen as this gift of remembrance for those who made sacrifices that can never be repaid.
The Wreaths Across America wreath is a symbolic gift of appreciation from a thankful American, adorned only by the red velveteen bow. You can learn more about the significance of the wreath in the above video by WAA Founder Morrill Worcester.
Who provides the wreaths? How is that decision made?
Worcester Wreath Company currently holds the contract for providing wreaths to Wreaths Across America, and has done so since the organization’s inception in 2007. Before that, Worcester Wreath Company donated over 5,000 wreath each year in what was then known as the Arlington Wreath Project.
Wreaths Across America is governed by a Board of Directors. On its creation, Karen Worcester stepped away from the Worcester companies to work full time on the non-profit organization as its first Executive Director, at no salary and a deep commitment to the mission.
WAA has a conflict of interest policy, with any Worcester-related Board Members recusing themselves from decisions related to the wreath procurement contract. All business relationships between WAA and Worcester Wreath Company were disclosed to the IRS prior to its designation as a 501(c)3 status in 2007 and review in 2012. These business relationships are also disclosed annually on the organization's 990.
To further establish the non-profit and vendor relationship, WAA implemented a Request For Proposals (RFP) process in 2016, The process was developed under advisement of legal and procurement professionals and is being executed by a WAA Board RFP Committee. The process is described on the WAA web site under Vendor Inquiries.
Will there be multiple vendors providing wreaths?
Yes, when and if there is more than one company willing to meet the established criteria required to operate the wreath program at a national level, and at its quality standards. The logistics and deployment of contracts are considerations in making decisions in the be interest of WAA . Interested vendors can find information on the WAA web site.
Does Wreaths Across America have an RFP for a wreath vendor?
Yes, please review the RFP process here.
What if I still have questions about the mission of Wreaths Across America?
If you are able to travel, we invite you to come to Maine to the small town of Columbia Falls and to the Wreaths Across America Headquarters. See the small museum, meet the people behind the mission, and go out on the land to tag a tree as part of the Stem to Stone program. With this direct experience, you will see why the mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach means so much, to so many—and why the wreath-laying tradition grows each year. Friends and family invite others. The wreaths become a catalyst for the conversations and connections that last a lifetime. It is most important, that folks understand “we do NOT decorate graves” as explained by WAA Executive Director Karen Worcester in the video here.
Gold Star Mother Ruth Stonesifer explains what Wreaths Across America means to her and the families who have lost a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice:
And WAA Chairman Wayne Hanson explains why we work so hard each year, to honor as many veterans and their families as possible: