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For thousands of American charities, the holiday season is an especially critical time of year. What many organizations receive during can dictate what they will achieve during the entire year to come.

During the season of giving, people are asked to care and share with those in need. In giving dollars, all like to believe their money will actually help.

Logic dictates that fundraising is not without costs. Small efforts often rely solely on volunteer solicitation and even the big operations make use of free help. But in almost every effort, some percentage of the money raised goes to paying for the job of raising it.

Continuing a tradition of more than two decades, S.C. Secretary of State Mark Hammond has issued an annual list of the charities that are tops in use of funds for the charity’s stated purpose. He calls them Angels. Customarily, Hammond also releases a list of Scrooges, charities that use a high percentage of the money raised for purposes other than the causes they identify. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, the Scrooge list will return but there is not one this year.

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 in compliance with the South Carolina Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act. Each year the Secretary of State’s Office attempts to showcase Angels with diverse missions from several areas around the state.

The focus is on the best of the best. The 2018 Angels, with the percentage of their expenditures that went toward their program services, are listed in alphabetical order:

Ballet Spartanburg Inc., Spartanburg, 87.2 percent.

Carolina’s Kids, Hartsville, 84.7 percent.

Central Carolina Community Foundation, Columbia, 93.6 percent.

Community Kitchen Inc. of Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, 80.9 percent.

Florence Crittenton Programs of South Carolina Inc., Charleston, 89 percent.

Good Neighbor Free Medical Clinic of Beaufort, Beaufort, 96.8 percent.

Helping Hands of Georgetown, Georgetown, 90 percent.

Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services P.A.A.L.S, Columbia, 91.2 percent.

United Christian Ministries of Abbeville County, Abbeville, 87.3 percent.

YouthBase Inc., Greenville, 88.2 percent.

Traditionally, charities have been eligible to be named as an Angel by the secretary of state only once in order to recognize as many deserving organizations as possible. Last year, however, Hammond began recognizing a past Angel that has continued to devote a high percentage of its expenditures to its charitable mission.

He designated Home Works of America Inc. as this year’s Honorary Angel for its service to the people of South Carolina during the floods of 2015 and 2016. Home Works of America Inc. was originally recognized as an Angel in 2004, and its program service percentage for FY 2016 was 91.2 percent.

As for Scrooges, they are charities that give 45 percent or less toward their charitable cause. Traditionally, those making the list are far below that level.

Donors can research charities registered in South Carolina by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.sc.gov/. To review a charitable organization, select the “Charity Search” button to learn a charity’s total revenue, program expenses, total expenses, net assets, and fundraiser costs. The website even calculates the percentage of total expenses that the charity has devoted to its program services. You can also call the Division of Public Charities at 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484) for more information.

Supporting charitable causes is a way of life for Americans. Supporting good organizations doing yeomen’s work in helping others is as important as ever. Please continue to give – but do so wisely.

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