South Carolinians encouraged to do their homework before donating to charity

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Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 5:22 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Each year, Americans collectively donate hundreds of billions of dollars to charity, with much of that giving during the holiday season, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.

With the season of giving now underway, Secretary of State Mark Hammond is advising South Carolinians, “Give from the heart, but please give smart.”

Hammond said people should research before opening their wallets or checkbooks, as some organizations hire professional fundraisers, a cost that can eat up much of the money they receive in donations and leave only a small portion for their actual work or service.

“We want to educate the charitable donor. The Better Business Bureau says you should give at least 65% toward your charitable purpose,” Hammond said.

People can look up organizations through the Secretary of State’s public database to find out how much of their expenses were allocated to program services in their most recent year’s filings. They can also call the Division of Public Charities at 1-888-CHARITI or email the division to learn more about an organization before they give.

“If you feel like you are being pressured, harassed, feel like the solicitor is not answering your questions, if they are a professional fundraiser, please contact the Secretary of State’s office, and we’ll be glad to assist you in any way we can,” Hammond said.

Each year, the Secretary of State’s Office highlights “Angels,” South Carolina charities that make the most of their donations by dedicating at least 80% of their money to charitable programs and services. Those organizations also must meet other criteria to be Angels, including making good use of volunteer services and having a significant presence in South Carolina.

Among this year’s 10 Angels was Sharing God’s Love, a community pantry in Irmo that has helped South Carolinians meet their basic needs when they aren’t able to on their own for decades.

“We help with food, clothing, and utility assistance, and we’ve been doing it for 38 years,” Executive Director Shari Selke said.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Sharing God’s Love puts its donations to good use, dedicating more than 92% of its money to charitable programs and services last year.

“One of the things that is key in our mission is to be good stewards of everything we have, so we make sure what we receive goes out into the community that it’s serving,” Selke said. “It’s always been a huge priority to use our donations wisely and share.”

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