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SC Secretary of State Announces Settlement Agreement with Professional Fundraiser

Donor Services Group fined for solicitation on behalf of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

5/31/2018

(COLUMBIA, SC) – South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond announced today that his office had entered into a settlement agreement with professional solicitor Donor Services Group, LLC.  As part of the settlement, Donor Services Group paid an administrative fine of $5,000.00, and any future violations of the agreement would result in fines of up to $2,000.00 for each separate violation.

The agreement was reached after it was alleged that Donor Services Group failed to make disclosures regarding its compensation as a professional fundraiser during a telephone solicitation on behalf of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.  Specifically, the Secretary of State’s Office alleged that Donor Services Group failed to disclose that it would receive an estimated 98 percent of all funds raised, while Planned Parenthood Action Fund would receive only 2 percent.  

In addition, Donor Services Group had failed to register several of its paid solicitors with the Secretary of State.  The Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act requires individual solicitors to register and disclose prior convictions for certain crimes, like fraud, forgery, and identity theft.  A conviction can disqualify a person from acting as a paid solicitor within the state of South Carolina for five years.

“The Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act protects donors by requiring paid solicitors to disclose how much they get paid when asked by a potential donor,” said Secretary Hammond.  “Likewise, the Act protects donors by requiring the registration of paid solicitors and prohibiting persons convicted of identity theft and similar crimes from acting as a solicitor for five years after the conviction.  When a professional fundraiser sidesteps these requirements, there are consequences.” 

“It is important that donors ask questions and do their own research before making a donation,” said Secretary Hammond.  “Ultimately, the educated donor is the first line of defense against unscrupulous charities and fundraisers.” 

Secretary Hammond also encouraged anyone who receives a suspicious charitable solicitation to contact the Secretary of State’s Office immediately.  Citizens can file a complaint 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the Secretary of State’s Online Charitable Solicitation Complaint Form, which is accessible at www.sos.sc.gov or contact the Division of Public Charities at 1-888-CHARITI (242-7484).
 
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Contact: Renee S. Daggerhart
803-734-0629