COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond announced the annual “Angels and Scrooges” lists for 2016, which highlight how much of your donations charities spend on actual programs and services. Angels spent a high percentage on actual charitable programs while Scrooges spent little.
For the first time, this year he included professional fundraisers on the list of Scrooges. One of those was Palmetto Thrift Store, located in Columbia, which gave just 0.8 percent to its charity. “Palmetto Thrift advertises that it donates 50 percent of its profits to Children’s Chance. However, after subtracting expenses such as advertising, salaries, rent, vehicle expenses, trash pickup, and legal fees, less than one percent of the gross receipts are given to the charity,” Hammond says.
But Palmetto Thrift co-owner Heather Harrison says the store is not a professional fundraiser. “We’re just a privately-owned family business that enjoyed this market and we wanted to give back to the community and do something, so we chose Children’s Chance to give a portion of our proceeds to,” she says. Children’s Chance helps families of children with cancer.
She says the store is considered a “professional fundraiser” because anyone who asks for donations has to register with the state, even though that’s not the store’s main focus. And she says the numbers do not reflect hours of volunteer work they’ve done for Children’s Chance or a vehicle they donated to a family.
She says it is true that they were not able to donate much last year because profits were down. “The biggest thing is payroll, which we’ve been very blessed to see a big change in the past two months. We found a group that provides us with a lot of volunteers, so we’ve actually cut payroll by about 25 percent in the last few months, and just this past month we were able to issue a check for $2,000 for just the month of October to Children’s Chance,” she says.
Having volunteers to do a charity’s work can make a big difference in how much money it’s able to spend on programs and services. One of the Angels on the list was Speak for Animals of Greenville, which provides free or low-cost spaying and neutering for cats and dogs that belong to low-income families and those on government assistance.
Last year, it was able to use 87.8 percent of its money on services. President Susan Bufano says, “We don’t have any paid employees. We have been around since 2003 and we operate with no office. We’re all volunteers and we’re just incredibly dedicated and enthusiastic for our cause.”
Hammond says before you give money to any charity, check it out first through his office. You’ll be able to find how much money they bring in, how much they spend, and the percentage that goes to charitable programs and services. His website is www.sos.sc.gov