10 of the best SC charities worth considering when making Christmas holiday donations

SC Secretary of State Office

Each year, South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond names 10 charities that show good stewardship. He calls them angels.

It’s a program that’s been going on since 1998, created during the term of Hammond’s predecessor, Jim Miles, who came into office with the mission of cracking down on charities that spend way too much money on themselves and not enough on their mission.

A charity must spend at least 80% of the money donated to them on their mission. The Better Business Bureau lists 65% as the threshold, Shannon Wiley, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, said.

Many of this year’s selections have been working quietly in their home community for decades, helping people who are blind or wheelchair-bound, those who need medical care but have no insurance, enhancing the lives of children and combating child abuse.

The Secretary of State doesn’t rank the 10 charities selected, which can only be on the list once, but the percentage they spend is listed. This year, all but one spent more than 90% of the money they raised on their mission.

The highest was Georgetown-based The Village Group, which spent 98.9% on after school and summer activities and field trips to see various businesses such as Boeing and BMW, art galleries and the Air and Space Museum and National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The Village Group grew from one father, Ray Funnye, joining with a few others interested in youth development — social, academic and athletic. They then began volunteering at Plantersville Elementary, brought in motivational speakers and started the summer program.

Also named a 2022 angel were:

Mercy Medicine Free Clinic in Florence at 95.6% has been in operation for 27 years in Florence and Williamsburg counties and last year expanded to Marion County. They provide free medical, dental and medication to low income and uninsured adults.

The clinic began with six doctors who saw patients every Tuesday and has grown to a fully established medical center.

The Dream Center of Pickens County in Easley, 95%, began in 2011 when Jim and Chris Wilson wanted to do more for the community than serving at their church. They met weekly for a year with a few friends to pray about how they could help people — “a hand-up instead of a hand out,” they said.

The Dream Center was started in 2012, helping one person, then another until they bought the Simpson Academy Alternative School in October 2013, growing to establish a homeless shelter program with 23 tiny houses and 10 transitional houses, resale stores in Easley, Pickens, Seneca and Greenville.

Restore Mobility for the Blind in Lake Wylie, 94.1%, offers transportation to work, medical appointments and shopping.

Sharing God’s Love, Inc., Irmo, 92.3% ,was founded in 1984 by area churches to provide a central location for people during emergencies to provide food, clothing and financial assistance.

The organization’s website says they served 5,233 people (1,759 families) in 2021.

Cancer Association of Spartanburg & Cherokee Counties, Inc., Spartanburg 93.2% has been around since 1967 and provides cancer patients with all sorts of needs, including nutritional supplements, bras and breast prostheses, ostomy supplies, counseling, home care supplies, wigs and hats, gas cards for treatment transportation, help with cancer medication costs, loan of hospital equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, bedside commodes.

Operation Home, Inc., N. Charleston 91.6% serves 550 families a year by renovating homes, building wheelchair ramps and ensuring homes have adequate heating units. It was established 24 years ago to serve households with children, the disabled and seniors.

Programs for Exceptional People Inc., Bluffton, 91.1%, has for 25 years provided day programs for people with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities. They offer a place for people to get together for literacy and vocational training.

Defenders For Children, Greenville, 91%, works to protect children from abuse, traffickers and pornographers. The organization provides K-9s that can detect electronic devices to law enforcement.

“Criminals have adapted and are now commonly storing images and videos on physical storage devices,” the organization’s website says. “The devices are very small and easy to conceal in areas that law enforcement can miss during their searches.”

They give blankets to victims of child abuse, many of whom leave their homes with nothing. They take kids fishing and have a program specifically for teens.

Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County, Aiken, 85.2% offers forensic interviews, medical care, advocacy support and counseling to children who have been abused.

Information on all charities registered in South Carolina can be obtained at sos.sc.gov, select the Charities Search to see revenue, program expenses, total expenses, net assets, and fundraiser costs, as well as the percentage of total expenses that the charity has spent on program services.