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Secretary of State Awarded $115,000 Judgment Against Professional Fundraiser

Share Group failed to pay administrative fines and file required financial reports

8/23/2011
 

(COLUMBIA, SC) -- Secretary of State Mark Hammond announced today that his office was awarded a judgment against the Massachusetts-based professional fundraiser Share Group, in the amount of $115,280.00. Share Group, which also conducts business under the name of “Share,” was previously registered in South Carolina as a telemarketer for numerous charitable organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, the United States Fund for UNICEF, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The judgment was awarded after the Secretary of State’s Office filed a petition for injunction against Share Group with the South Carolina Administrative Law Court. The petition alleged that Share Group had failed to pay administrative fines for failure to register over 40 individual telemarketers with the Secretary of State’s Office as required under the South Carolina Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act. Furthermore, the petition alleged that Share Group had failed to file joint financial reports from fundraising campaigns on behalf of the aforementioned charities, as well as numerous others.

The Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act requires the registration of individual solicitors in order to protect the public and the filing of financial reports to provide transparency and accountability.

In addition to ordering Share Group to provide all outstanding registrations and joint financial reports to the Secretary of State’s Office, the Administrative Law Court ordered Share Group to cease and desist from holding itself out as a professional solicitor for any charitable organization in the state of South Carolina until the administrative fines totaling $115,280.00 are paid and until it is properly registered with the Secretary of State.

“This ruling should serve as a reminder to South Carolina donors that professional solicitors like Share Group are obligated to comply with state law when soliciting on behalf of charities,” said South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond. “Not only are professional fundraisers required to register with the state and file financial reports, but they are required to disclose certain information when calling to ask for donations. For example, telemarketers calling on behalf of charities must disclose whether they are a ‘paid’ or ‘professional’ solicitor. They must disclose the true name of the professional fundraising organization for which they work as well as the true name, location, and purpose of the charitable organization for which they are soliciting. Donors are also entitled to ask how much of their donation actually goes to the charity and how much is paid to the professional fundraiser. If a telemarketer does not disclose this information, it is a violation of South Carolina law,” said Hammond.

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding a solicitation for a charitable donation that they have received may contact the Secretary of State’s Office at (803) 734-2170.

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Contact: Renee S. Daggerhart
(803) 734-0629