Charity on annual 'Scrooge' list claims mix up - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Charity on annual 'Scrooge' list claims mix up

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The Secretary of State's office released a list Wednesday of charities that spend the most and least on their stated purposes. The intent is to make sure the public is educated on where their money is going.

One of the two South Carolina based organizations to make the scrooge list is located near I-277 and Farrow Road. It's the Louis D. Simmons American Legion Post 215.

Hammond said American Legion Post 215 has over the past few years brought in between $94,000 to $98,000 annually. But Hammond said in the past fiscal year the post spent just 3.2 percent of that money for charitable purposes.

There are strict rules for behavior inside the Louis D. Simmons American Legion Post 215 in north Columbia. But the South Carolina Secretary of State's office says the people running this operation aren't paying much attention to a major rule that should govern any charity.

That is, to direct most of what you take in to charitable programs.

Post 215 is one of eleven organizations to make the Secretary of State's annual "Scrooge" list, a roundup of organizations that contribute only a small fraction of their revenues to charitable causes.

"What we want to do especially during the holiday season is use this opportunity as a public awareness announcement to let individuals know that they need to check out these charitable organizations before they give," Hammond said Wednesday.

The Legion post is one of two Palmetto State organizations named in a list of miserly charities from all over the eastern U.S.

The American Legion Post 215 on Chappelle Street was locked up when we arrived.

WIS tracked down Commander James Ridgell who declined to appear on camera but told us by phone he was shocked by the state agency's claim.

Ridgell blamed what he called a "big misunderstanding" and a "mix up" and said he was forming a committee of post members to look into what happened. Ridgell says the post has done a lot of positive things for the community.

Post 215 has a Facebook page and it shows the organization promoting several community events including a gospel music performance.

A post member did meet today with the agency's staffers but the secretary's office says the rating was based on paperwork submitted by the legion post.

The other South Carolina charity named is Elks Lodge Number 1305 in Gaffney.

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 our Division of Public Charities at 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484) for more information.

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