(COLUMBIA) – Today South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond cautioned donors to give wisely when supporting communities affected by Hurricane Ian.
“The people of Florida and coastal South Carolina who were impacted by this monster storm need our assistance, and I know that South Carolinians will step up to help anyway they can,” said Secretary Hammond. “I encourage donors to practice wise charitable giving so that their contributions will go to those who need it the most.”
Secretary Hammond urges donors to follow these guidelines when donating to charities claiming to assist disaster-impacted communities:
Consider limiting your contributions to charities that have a long track record of providing aid during natural disasters. Donors should restrict their donations to charities with a history of transparency and accountability, and that have the infrastructure to deliver resources to affected areas. “Unfortunately, during times of crisis, scammers take advantage of people’s generosity,” said Secretary Hammond. “Fly-by-night organizations also pop up and ask for donations. Newly formed charities may have good intentions, but may also lack the infrastructure to get aid to where it’s needed. That is why it’s important to always research an organization before making a donation.” Donors can research charities by using the Charity Search feature on the Secretary of State’s website at sos.sc.gov. There you can see if a charity is registered to solicit in South Carolina and review its most recent financial information, including the organization’s most recently filed financial report.
Don’t feel pressured to make a contribution right away. If a charity asking for a donation is legitimate, it will welcome the opportunity for you to ask questions about how your contribution will be used. Always ask how much of your donation will go to the charitable organization. If you are being solicited by a professional solicitor, it is required by law to disclose that it is being paid to solicit, and, if asked, how much it is being paid. Also, be aware that crowdfunding platforms charge fees for their services, which are deducted from your charitable donation.
Protect yourself from identity theft. 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. To learn more about identity theft, or to report an incident involving identity theft, please visit the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs website at consumer.sc.gov.
Notify the Secretary of State’s Office if you have any questions or concerns about a charity. If you have a question about a charitable organization, you can always contact the Secretary of State’s Division of Public Charities at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
“Our prayers are with everyone who has been harmed by Hurricane Ian, and the people of South Carolina are ready and willing to assist,” said Secretary Hammond. “For those inclined to contribute to the recovery efforts, please remember to give from the heart, but always give smart.”