In the wake of back-to-back hurricanes striking the United States, Secretary of State Mark Hammond is reminding South Carolinians to be extra vigilant when helping those in need.

“Although South Carolina was lucky to avoid a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, I am certain that our citizens will want to help those who were not as fortunate,” said Secretary Hammond. “The people of Florida – as well as Texas, which is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey – need the support of their Southeastern neighbors. I urge everyone to be cautious when exercising their generosity.”

Secretary Hammond not only encourages consumers to research any charitable organization before making a donation, but also asks them to contact the Secretary of State’s Office if they have any concerns regarding a request for assistance. “Earlier this year, our office launched its Online Charitable Solicitation Complaint Form. This online application allows donors to confidentially file a complaint with the Division of Public Charities, and expedites our office’s response.”

The Online Charitable Solicitation Complaint Form is accessible at the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.sc.gov. Donors may inquire about the status of a charitable organization by using the Charity Search feature on the website, and review registered charities’ financial information including total revenue, total expenses, fundraising costs, and the percentage spent on charitable programs. The Division of Public Charities also may be reached by calling 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484).

In addition to asking donors to carefully research charities and contact his office if they have any questions or concerns, Secretary Hammond is reminding everyone to ask questions if they receive a direct solicitation and to safeguard their personal and financial information. “Natural disasters like Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey bring out the best in some people and the worst in others,” said Secretary Hammond. “Our office is here to help protect South Carolina’s donors, and make sure their generosity reaches their intended beneficiaries. Always remember to give from the heart, but give smart.”