(COLUMBIA) -- South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond has issued an advisory to remind donors supporting the nation of Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees to practice wise charitable giving. “Our prayers are with the people of Ukraine as they fight for their lives and their freedom against Russia’s senseless act of aggression,” said Secretary Hammond. “I know that South Carolinians want to help anyway we can. In times of crisis, it is imperative that donors remain vigilant and remember to give from the heart, but give smart.”
Secretary Hammond encourages donors to follow these guidelines when making a charitable contribution during a crisis or disaster:
Make sure the charity you are donating to has a long track record of helping those in need. Donors should consider limiting their donations to charities with a long track record of transparency and accountability, and that have the infrastructure to deliver resources to the intended recipients. “During times of disaster, fly-by-night organizations appear and take advantage of the urgency of the situation. Unfortunately, they can disappear just as quickly with your donation in hand,” said Secretary Hammond. “Please use the Charity Search feature on our website to check to see if a charity is registered to solicit in South Carolina, and review their financial information, including the most recent financial report.” Furthermore, beware of organizations that use names or web addresses that resemble those of well-established charities. Fraudulent charities will often use familiar-sounding or generic names to try to confuse donors.
Ask questions and don’t feel pressured to contribute right away. If a person or charitable organization asking for a donation is legitimate, they will welcome the opportunity for you to ask questions about how your contribution will be used and independently review their charitable activity before donating. “Not only are donors hurt by unscrupulous solicitors, but so are legitimate charities,” said Secretary Hammond. “When a donor is scammed, it diverts needed resources and erodes trust in the charitable sector. That is why good charities support donors taking the time to educate themselves before making a contribution.” In addition, always ask how much of your donation will go to the charitable organization. Telephone solicitors and crowdfunding platforms charge fees for their services, which are deducted from your charitable donation.
Be wary of giving out your personal and financial information. Scammers will use a crisis as an opportunity to steal both your money and your identity. Never give out your Social Security number in response to a charitable solicitation, and only use your credit card to donate to reputable organizations.
Notify the Secretary of State’s Office if you have any questions or concerns. You can contact the Division of Public Charities at email@example.com or 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484). If you would like to submit a complaint about a charity, professional fundraiser, or raffle, you can use the Online Charitable Solicitation Complaint Form at sos.sc.gov to file a confidential complaint 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.