OPERATION GRATITUDE INC

Saying "Thank You" to All Who Serve

aka Operation Gratitude   |   Encino, CA   |  www.operationgratitude.com

Mission

To forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide.

Ruling year info

2003

Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Schmiegel

Main address

PO Box 260257

Encino, CA 91426-0257 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-0103575

NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Since 9/11, observers have acknowledged a widening gap of understanding and a lessening of engagement between the 2.1 million Americans who serve in our all-volunteer military force and the rest of the population, even though 75% of military families live within civilian communities. Unfortunately, a similar "civilian-service divide" is developing between the general public and the 2.3 million police and firefighters who also serve in harm's way. In the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics survey, the number of Americans age 16 or older who had contact with the police declined from 26% to 21% in four years, a drop of more than 9 million people. Operation Gratitude is uniquely poised to bridge the civilian-service divide described above. Civilians everywhere want to show their appreciation and support but do not always know how. Operation Gratitude makes it easy for everyday citizens to participate in "bridging the divide".

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Care Package Program

Operation Gratitude sends 350,000+ individually addressed care packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to Recruit Graduates, Veterans, First Responders, and Wounded Heroes and their Caregivers. Each package contains food, hygiene, entertainment and handmade items, as well as personal letters of support.

Population(s) Served
Military personnel
Emergency responders

When possible, Operation Gratitude prioritizes the direct delivery of our Care Packages to Military, Veterans, and First Responders by our volunteers. These activities bring communities together through volunteer service projects and related activities, offering grateful Americans tangible ways to say "thank you" to all who serve. These actions spark relationships that help forge strong bonds and bridge the civilian-service divide in communities nationwide.

Population(s) Served
Emergency responders
Military personnel

Virtual volunteerism provides ways for individuals, groups and businesses to contribute and give back from within their own homes and communities, providing every American the opportunity to express appreciation to their military and first responder heroes by writing heartfelt letters, knitting, crocheting and sewing projects and making paracord bracelets and other handmade items.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Within eight days of COVID-19 shutting down businesses across the country, they reached out to hundreds of hospitals, police and fire departments, and military units and delivered repeated and sustained waves of gratitude in communities across the country.

Beginning in March 2020, Operation Gratitude has delivered millions of individual items along with handwritten letters of appreciation to impact 61,900 Veterans and National Guard, 164,500 First Responders, and 228,200 Healthcare providers battling the pandemic. The care packages make a tangible impact not only on the recipients but also on the more than 2 million volunteers who have found a sense of purpose, giving back during challenging and stressful times.

Population(s) Served
Military personnel
Emergency responders
Veterans

Where we work

Awards

Citizenship Award 2011

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Minerva Award 2010

California Women's Conference

Jefferson Award 2012

ABC7 Los Angeles

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Military personnel, Emergency responders, Veterans

Related Program

Care Package Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number represents all those who donate their time, talent, and treasure as a tangible demonstration of their gratitude to their military and first responder heroes.

Number of Care Packages Delivered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Military personnel, Emergency responders, Veterans

Related Program

Care Package Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

2020 metric includes support for COVID-19 Frontline Responders Higher number of Care Packages sent in 2017 is due to Operation Gratitude's involvement in national disaster relief in 2017.

Number of "Handmade With Love" items created for and donated to Operation Gratitude

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Care Package Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Individuals take the time to create items such as hand-knit scarves and hats and paracord bracelets to be included in every Care Package. The recipients treasure the handmade items.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Demonstrating that actions speak louder than words, Operation Gratitude provides tangible ways to forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide.

Operation Gratitude’s mission is to forge strong bonds between Americans and
their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of
gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide. More than 17
years ago, in March of 2003, Operation Gratitude sent its first four Care Packages
to deployed Service Members in Iraq. Since its inception, the organization has given millions of Americans the opportunity to express appreciation through hands-on volunteerism and lifted the spirits of more than 1.8 million Deployed Troops, and another 1.2 million recruit graduates, veterans, military families, first responders
and healthcare heroes. Corporate partners and grateful citizens from across the country donate more than 15 million “Wish List” and handmade items each year to fill the Care Packages. Through donation drives, letter-writing campaigns, craft projects, hands-on service projects, and other activities, volunteers are the heart
and soul of the organization.

In unique and trying times, when circumstances prevent large groups of people from gathering together to create and deliver Care Packages, Operation Gratitude provides direct support to those serving our nation and their communities with bulk deliveries of donated items and handwritten letters of support. In addition, Operation Gratitude always provides meaningful ways for every grateful American to give back from their own homes through Virtual Volunteerism.

COVID-19 Response: On March 22, 2020, Operation Gratitude launched one of the largest coordinated
efforts in the country to support the brave men and women on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Care Packages for Deployed Troops, Veterans, Wounded Heroes and their Caregivers: Grateful Americans and service friendly companies donate millions of products and handmade items each year. Hundreds of volunteers come together to assemble the Care Packages at “Assembly Days” at the organization's facility in Chatsworth, CA, as well as at off-site assembly days in select cities nationwide . The Care Packages are then mailed to individually named Deployed Troops, Veterans, Wounded Heroes and Caregivers.

Care Pouches for First Responders and Recruit Graduates: at corporate events and Assembly Days, volunteers assemble Operation Gratitude signature red Care Pouches filled with useful and heartfelt items for First Responders and Recruit Graduates. Operation Gratitude staff and community volunteers then hand deliver the Care Pouches when possible.

Battalion Buddies for the children of Deployed Troops: corporations across the country purchase Operation Gratitude – branded stuffed teddy bear skins. At corporate events, employees stuff the bear skins, transforming them into Battalion Buddies. These Battalion Buddies are delivered to the children of deployed troops to provide a special source of comfort while their parent is away. As often as possible, Operation Gratitude hand delivers Battalion Buddies at send-off events, holiday parties, and other events.

Halloween Candy Give-Back Program: More than 400,000 pounds of Halloween candy are collected annually and sent to Operation Gratitude. The collection sites are local schools, churches, youth groups, and community-based organizations nationwide. Operation Gratitude then includes this candy in its Care Packages. In addition, local organizations are encouraged to donate candy directly to their local First Responders, with Operation Gratitude acting as the facilitator.

Corporate Volunteerism: Operation Gratitude offers an easy solution for CSR programs by providing the means for companies to offer meaningful hands-on volunteer opportunities on-site or virtually. Employees write “thank you” letters, organize collection drives, create paracord survival bracelets, stuff Battalion Buddies, and assemble care kits for inclusion in Care Packages.

Handmade with Love: Items such as knit scarves, hats and paracord survival bracelets are among the most cherished items in Operation Gratitude signature Care Packages and Care Pouches, as they demonstrate that a grateful American is willing to take the time to create something by hand as a show of their appreciation.

Virtual Volunteerism : Virtual volunteerism provides ways for individuals, groups and businesses to give back from their own homes, giving every American the opportunity to express appreciation to military, veteran and healthcare heroes.

Nationally, Operation Gratitude encompasses supporters in every state: College campuses, scout troops, religious congregations, homeowner associations, places of business, civic groups and schools are just some of the communities that join our mission nationwide through a variety of activities. When there are no COVID-19 restrictions, the care packages are assembled in a 35,000 square foot warehouse in Chatsworth, California by a dedicated team of American citizens: seniors working side by side with teenagers; people from every walk of life, rich and poor, able bodied and handicapped; members of every race, nationality and political persuasion, all joined together in common cause to put a smile on a hero's face. During our “Assembly Days," several hundred to a thousand volunteers form assembly lines to produce the care packages. In less than one minute, an unassembled box is completely filled with an assortment of items to include snacks, entertainment items, toiletries, the Operation Gratitude Magazine and personal heart-warming notes from Americans back home. Every hour, approximately 3,500 such care packages, containing up to fifty items each, are produced and loaded onto a waiting U.S. Postal Service or freight truck. A wide variety of groups and organizations participate with Operation Gratitude on site, including Boy and Girl Scouts, senior citizen groups, schools, churches, special needs students and adults, rehabilitation facilities, corporate employees, civic groups and sports teams. There is a job for every person.

Similarly, Care Pouches are assembled for Recruit Graduates and First Responders at these same Assembly Days as well as during off-site and corporate sponsored events.

During the pandemic, Operation Gratitude quickly pivoted to focus on bulk delivery of palletized items, virtual volunteerism and smaller scale Assembly Days stretched over multiple days or weeks over a larger space to allow for social distancing. All federal, state and local guidelines were closely followed to ensure safe volunteer activities.

Our programs directly benefit individuals and the community. For retirees, the elderly, the handicapped and for Veterans of all eras, Operation Gratitude is a way to stay active and engaged through purposeful volunteerism while still serving their country in a productive and meaningful way. Students seeking community service hours not only meet and work with our diverse group of volunteers, but also learn to respect our nation's service members and first responders. Corporate employees find not only a great team building exercise, but also a heartwarming experience.

Accomplishments: • 94 cents of every dollar donated goes to program services; fundraising expenses less than 2.5% • Administrative and fundraising expenses are the lowest in the Military Support community • 3 Million+ care packages assembled & shipped to date • One million plus active, engaged volunteers in 2020, despite the challenges associated with gathering due to COVID-19 •370,000+ opted-in social media contacts: Email, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Linked In, Blog, Instagram • Average Annual website hits: 23,000,000; Average Annual website visits: 421,000 • One of the top viewed charities on Guidestar.org; prestigious accreditation by Better Business Bureau

What Distinguishes Us From Other Programs: • Ability to quickly pivot in response to the needs of the communities served • Overseas packages personally addressed to an individual service member, which makes the recipient feel he/she is not just a number, but an honored individual • Off-site Assembly days in cities nationwide• 350,000+ Packages assembled and shipped every year, to include 600,000+ in 2020, even during a pandemic • Provides unlimited volunteer opportunities for every American to give back in a meaningful, unique way from their home or workplace • BRIDGE Council - corporate and civic leaders, and Military, Veteran and first Responder service advocates bringing communities together through hands-on volunteerism and direct interactions • Established the Coalition to support COVID-19 Frontline Responders, a group of companies across all industries who joined Operation Gratitude to leverage their collective resources and capabilities and provide direct support to hundreds of thousands of Frontline Responders nationwide. •Assembly and direct delivery of Care Packages by community volunteers, which lead to increased understanding of what it means to serve, and stronger connections, which ultimately lead to stronger communities and bridging of the civilian-service divide.

Financials

OPERATION GRATITUDE INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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OPERATION GRATITUDE INC

Board of directors
as of 2/17/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Martha "Marty" Martin

Liddy, Martin

Term: 2013 - 2017

Jordan Blashek

Schmidt Futures

Martha "Marty" Martin

Insurance Executive

Richard Saklad

99 Cent Only Stores

Sharman Borncamp

TransTechnology Corporation

Katelynn Duffel

AT&T Entertainment Group

Joe Kristol

Terry Blankenship

KBR, Inc.

Scott Wuesthoff

Angela Struebing

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/11/2021,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

No data

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data