The nationwide crackdown will combat fraudulent veterans-related charities.
(COLUMBIA, SC) - South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond announced today that his office has joined South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, the Federal Trade Commission, and law enforcement officials and charity regulators from every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico in announcing “Operation Donate with Honor,” a crackdown against fraudulent charities that claim to help veterans and members of the armed services.
“Today, charities regulators across America are standing up for the men and women who have stood up for our freedom,” said Secretary Hammond. “Operation Donate with Honor reminds each of us to stay vigilant when making charitable contributions, and sends a message that exploiting veterans will not be tolerated.”
Over the past year, the Secretary of State’s Office has taken administrative actions against several charities that claim to assist veterans, including the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, Feed Our Veterans, and Heels for Combat Boots. Secretary Hammond also joined 23 other states in a settlement agreement dissolving VietNow National Headquarters for deceptive solicitation practices. Most recently, the Secretary of State entered into a settlement agreement with the Veterans Relief Network regarding inaccurate reporting of program services and fundraising expenses in its annual financial report filings. A list of these enforcement actions, along with the more than 100 actions taken by charity regulators as part of Operation Donate with Honor (PDF).
Operation Donate with Honor was developed by the FTC and the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO), the association of state offices charged with oversight of charitable organizations and charitable solicitations in the United States. The initiative pairs enforcement actions with an education campaign to help consumers recognize charitable solicitation fraud and identify legitimate charities. This includes a new video that highlights tips on how to research charities and give wisely to veterans organizations.
Secretary Hammond encourages potential donors to learn how to spot fraudulent and deceptive solicitations and make sure their contributions benefit veterans and service members. When considering making a charitable contribution, donors should do the following:
• Check the Secretary of State’s website to see if the charity is registered to solicit in South Carolina, and what percentage of its expenditures were used for charitable programs in the previous year;
• Ask if the charity is using a professional solicitor, and, if so, how much of your donation will be used for fundraising expenses;
• Don’t rely on a sympathetic sounding name to donate;
• Never feel pressured to donate without doing your research first. In addition to the Secretary of State’s website, you can look up charities at the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, or Charity Navigator.
South Carolina citizens who have concerns about a charitable organization or a solicitation that they have received should notify the Secretary of State’s Office immediately through its Online Charitable Solicitation Complaint Form.
Contact: Renee S. Daggerhart