Before you donate to any charity this holiday season, find out which ones are “Angels” and which ones are “Scrooges,” SC Secretary of State Mark Hammond says.
The Secretary of State Office on Wednesday released its annual list of charities ranked by what percentage of their expenditures go towards the cause they claim to support.
According to the release, the “Angels” were led by the nonprofit Girls on the Run Tri County SC, a Fort Mill-based organization that works to help girls in grades 3-8. According to the release, the organization spends 99 percent of its money on programs. Also on the list was the MARYS House domestic violence shelter in Pickens, with more than 96 percent of its expenditures going to programs.
The Angels were selected by review of financial reports submitted annually to the Secretary of State’s Office, as well as by nominations from the public. To be selected as an Angel, the charity must have devoted 80 percent or more of its total expenditures to charitable programs; the charity must have been in existence for three or more years; the charity must make good use of volunteer services; the charity must receive minimal funding from grants; and the charity must be registered with the Secretary of State to solicit funds in the state of South Carolina. Each year the Secretary of State’s Office attempts to showcase Angels with diverse missions, from across South Carolina and outside the state.
The designation of “Scrooge” is based upon a charitable organization’s failure to spend a high percentage of its total expenditures on charitable programs. The lowest-scoring South Carolina nonprofit in this category was The Boyz of Gospel in Bennettsville, which only spent 8 percent of its expenditures on programs.
Hammond said there are some questions that donors should have for charities before handing over any money. “They need to ask this charity if they are registered in the Secretary of State’s Office,” he told South Carolina Radio Network Wednesday. “They need to ask them where they are located. They need to ask them what percentage is going to the charitable purpose.”
Hammond said some fundraising organizations take 80 to 90 percent of donations they receive and at times less than 10 percent actually goes to the charitable purpose. He said some organizations spend much of their money hiring professional fundraisers who make commission based on what they solicit.
The Angels honored represent organizations that exemplify charitable giving in South Carolina. Representatives from all organizations were in attendance to receive a plaque and recognition from Secretary Hammond
“As Secretary of State, I have the duty of enforcing the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act, and of promoting transparency and accountability for charitable organizations. South Carolinians continue to be among the most generous people in the nation; however, we must guard against those who want take advantage of our generosity. I ask you to research charitable organizations before you give to make sure high percentages are going to the organization’s program services.” Hammond said.
Charitable donors may research organizations registered in South Carolina by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.sc.gov. To review an organization, select the Charity Search button to learn a charity’s total revenue, program expenses, total expenses, net assets, and fundraiser costs. The website even calculates the percentage of total expenses that the charity has devoted to its program services. You can also call the Division of Public Charities at 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484) for more information.