S.C. Secretary of State suspends hundreds of charities, including in Horry County

S.C. Secretary of State suspends hundreds of charities, including in Horry County
Right now, there are nearly 300 suspended non-profit groups in the Palmetto State, including eight in Horry County. (Source: South Carolina Secretary of State)

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - During the holidays, it’s common for people to open up their wallets and give a little extra to those who are less fortunate. When it comes to charitable giving, South Carolina ranks in the top 10 across the nation, according to the S.C. Secretary of State.

Right now, there are nearly 300 suspended non-profit groups in the Palmetto State, including eight in Horry County. This means these organizations are not supposed to be asking for donations.

State leaders say the more than 12,000 charities registered in South Carolina must follow rules to not end up on this list, such as registering as a “Charitable Organization” with the S.C. Secretary of State. Groups must also send in financial reports every year so the state can keep tabs on how donor money is spent.

If an organization fails to send the report, the S.C. Secretary of State sends a notice saying they have not received an annual report. After 15 days, if the charity still does not file, they’re issued a fine until it caps out at $2,000. Once a charity gets to that point, they’re placed on the suspended list, which is published online to the public.

Renee Wikstrom with the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina points out in the non-profit world, many groups are small and are run by one to two people, which could make it difficult to keep tabs on certain reports. Wikstrom says many of the non-profit organizations may not even know they’re on the suspended list.

“There are two reports, there’s a registration report that’s due annually and a financial report that’s due annually. And if they fail to file those reports, they can be suspended for that. If they have filed the reports but there’s inaccurate information or they have not perhaps paid a fine from the previous year, that sort of thing, they can be fined for that. And so sometimes, the years tend to amount up and up,” said Wikstrom.

Last year, Giving USA reports Americans gave $292 billion to charity, and the giving season is something scammers tend to take advantage of. When you decide to support a cause you care about, you want your donation to count, so doing some easy research and planning can help ensure your donations get to where they’ll do good.

First, once you choose a charity you'd like to support, search its name, plus the words "complaint", "review", "rating" or "scam." Be careful on how you pay. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don't do it. To be safer, pay by credit card or check.

The Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina says this is the time of year where scammers are out in full force looking to take advantage of your good will.

“With crowdsourcing, the GoFundMe accounts, that sort of thing, you don’t know who’s behind it unless you know the charity. So if you see something pop up and it’s we want to give toys to all of these, you know unfortunate children, you want to double-check, you want to do some research. Check with the Secretary of State’s office and see if they have filed to be a 501C3 nonprofit so that they can fundraise like that,” said Wikstrom.

Experts say before you donate, you can check the BBB website or give.org.

If you find something feels fishy, don't just keep it to yourself. If you think you've been scammed, you can file a complaint with the FTC or the BBB.

You can find the full list of suspended charities right now on SOS.SC.gov.

State leaders say the list may change each week, so make sure you check regularly, especially with the giving season getting underway.

Below is a list of charitable organizations in Horry County on the “Suspended Charities” list:

  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Mu Iota Omega Chapter - CONWAY, SC Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 12/31/2016
  • Saltwater Highland Games - MYRTLE BEACH, SC Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 05/31/2018
  • Surfside Beach Rescue Squad Inc - SURFSIDE BCH, SC Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 12/31/2017
  • Shepherd’s Table, A SC Eleemosynary Corporation - CONWAY, SC Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 12/31/2017
  • Scents for Soldiers - Myrtle Beach, SC Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 12/31/2016 Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Registration Statement (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 12/31/2017
  • Fostering Hope, Inc. - Conway, SC Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 06/30/2018 Katie’s Project, Inc. - MYRTLE BEACH, SC Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 12/31/2017 Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 12/31/2016
  • Little River Blue Crab Festival, Inc. - Little River, SC Failure to pay a fine for: Delinquent Annual Financial Report (Charity) Fiscal Year Ending: 12/31/2017

Fostering Hope posted an update to its Facebook page, stating they were not aware they were delinquent or on the list until late Friday, Nov. 8. The full statement can be read below:

Fostering Hope has just become aware of an issue with SC Charities Division. We were not aware we were delinquent or on this list until late Friday, November 8, 2019 and immediately attempted to contact the State about the situation, but their offices are closed until Tuesday the 11th. It is our understanding filings were made in a timely manner and we are certain this will be cleared up once the State offices reopen on Tuesday.

We realize the importance of this issue, but meanwhile our mission and focus will continue to be on what is important- serving the children in crisis in our community.

Sheperd’s Table sent this statement to WMBF News in regards to this story:

The Shepherd’s Table corrected the clerical error with the State of SC immediately after they were notified of the issue by their accountant. Everything was worked out between the 2 organizations. The Shepherd’s Table is a local Christian based 501c3 non profit that feeds the Conway areas homeless and less fortunate. Our mission is sharing God’s love one meal at a time. We provide over 26K meals every year and are dependent on the donations that it receives from our local chrurches and community.

Thank you for you patience and understanding as we resolve this issue.

The Surfside Beach Rescue Squad sent this statement to WMBF News in regards to this story:

We at Surfside Beach Rescue Squad have recently become aware of a delinquent status with the SC Secretary of State Charities Division. As of this time, the clerical issues have been resolved and our suspension has been lifted.

We are a non-profit, 100% volunteer based emergency rescue squad focused on providing excellent care to our neighbors. Our community’s contributions are not only needed, but very much appreciated, as we continue to care for our local friends and families. We would like to thank our community for their understanding in regards to this error.

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