Every holiday season, there are the angels and the scrooges.
For 17 years, the S.C. Secretary of State's office has put out its annual Scrooges and Angels list, and this year's list has some local ties.
The Angels were honored in a ceremony last month for organizations that exemplify charitable giving in South Carolina. The Scrooges were listed based upon a charitable organization's failure to spend a high percentage of its collections on charitable programs.
Habitat for Humanity of North Augusta was one of 10 organizations to receive the Angel recognition and a plaque from Secretary of State Mark Hammond in last month's ceremony.
According to a release sent out by Hammond's office, “The Angels were selected by review of financial reports submitted annually to the Secretary of State's Office, as well as by nominations from the public.
“To be selected as an Angel, the charity must have devoted 80 percent or more of its total expenditures to charitable programs; the charity must have been in existence for three or more years; the charity must make good use of volunteer services; the charity must receive minimal funding from grants; and the charity must be registered with the Secretary of State to solicit funds in the state of South Carolina. Each year, the Secretary of State's Office attempts to showcase Angels with diverse missions, from across South Carolina and outside the state.”
Habitat for Humanity of North Augusta, according to financial reports, donated 96.7 percent of its total expenditures to charitable programs. That was the second highest total of the Angel awardees this year.
“It's good to know that there are other charities out there that are working as hard as we are, on little or nothing, because our organization is 100 percent volunteer,” vice president Pat Bonsel told The Star newspaper last month.
“We have no paid staff at all. Our office is donated by a local doctor. We get things donated from all over the place, and every single job that gets done is volunteer. That's huge.”
Missional Advancement Project Inc., of Aiken was listed as a Scrooge for the first time by Hammond's office. According to the release, it devoted only 6.4 percent to charitable programs.
According to this year's release, “The following criteria were considered in selecting Scrooges: The charity had devoted 40 percent or less of its total expenditures to charitable programs; the charity had spent a significant amount of revenue on fundraising expenses; and the charity had registered with the Secretary of State to solicit funds in the state of South Carolina.”
MAP Executive Director Mark Epps disputed the Scrooge label but did not dispute the numbers filed on his 990EZ short form, which the state uses to select Angels and Scrooges.
Epps said that he set up his nonprofit to help support his family and his work as a missionary and church planter. He is associated with Journey Church and Full Circle Refuge, among others.
“This is a disservice because of the work I have done here in Aiken County,” Epps said. “They should investigate an organization before they label it as a Scrooge. I feel like I've kind of been dealt with unjustly.”
Hammond issued the following statement: “As Secretary of State, I have the duty of enforcing the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act, and of protecting the public against “Scrooge” organizations that want to take advantage of our giving spirit. Charitable solicitations across the state have increased in the last four years because more and more people are in need of assistance.
“Times are still tough in South Carolina, but our residents continue to be some of the most generous people in the nation and always answer the call when it comes to defending and helping the less fortunate, Hammond said. “However, there are those who would take advantage of our generosity. So I ask that you check out any organization before you contribute your hard-earned money.”
Charitable donors may research organizations registered in South Carolina by visiting the Secretary of State's website at www.sos.sc.gov.
Aiken Standard file photo Volunteers from the community celebrated the raising of the first wall of a Habitat for Humanity house in North Augusta on Austin Street in June.×
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