“Give Heart, But Please Give Wisely” This Holiday Season

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Each year Americans collectively donate hundreds of billions of dollars to charity, much of it during the holiday season, according to the National Philanthropic Trust.

With giving season now on, Secretary of State Mark Hammond advises South Carolina residents, “Give heart, but please give smart.”

Hammond said people should do 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.

“These contracts are filed with the secretary of state’s office, and on those contracts, on average, the professional fundraiser gets 85% of the contribution, and then there are other fees that they can charge the organization. , so sometimes organizations will only get maybe 15% or 10% of contributions made, ”Hammond said.

People can search for organizations through the Secretary of State’s public database to find out how much of their spending was allocated to program services in their most recent year returns. They can also call the Public Charities Division at 1-888-CHARITI or email the division to find out more about an organization before giving.

“Unfortunately, there are organizations that would like to take advantage of our generosity,” Hammond said.

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

Among the 15 angels of this year was the Free Medical Clinic of Columbia, which has provided primary care, specialist care, and prescribing services to thousands of Southern Carolinians without health coverage for nearly 40 years.

“The bulk of our operating budget is made up of donations and fundraising,” said Dr. Todd Crump, who is the clinic’s volunteer medical director.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, the Free Medical Clinic is putting its donations to good use, spending more than 94% of its money on charitable programs and services last year.

“I saw the books here,” Crump said. “I know that we are very good stewards of the gifts that are given to us, and we have to be because we are on a very tight budget to meet the needs because there is such a need out there.”

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