COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - It's the season of giving, but do residents really know where their money goes when they give to charities, or how much of it goes there?
The South Carolina Secretary of State releases a list of so-called Scrooges and angels every year.
This massive list names some of the so-called best and worst charities, based on how much of residents' money actually goes to them. While no local groups made the worst or best, WMBF News dug through the full list and checked out some of the Bingo Charities where some of the money ends up.
Angela Schwindel has been calling numbers at Big Bucks Beach Bingo on Dick Pond Road for a decade, but said she doesn't do it for the money.
"Actually, for the past two to three years my husband and I personally have taken money from our savings account and put back into the bingo just to keep it open for the community," said Angela Schwindel.
She added her players are more like family.
"We have some that are here every single day for the past 10 years that if they're not here we're worried, we call their house. It really is more of a family It really is. I have a closely-knit community," Schwindel said.
According to the Secretary of State's report, her Big Bucks Beach Bingo gave 1.84 percent of its earnings to her partner charity Order Sons of Italy- Myrtle Beach Lodge 2662. They use the funds for scholarships and enhancements to their lodge, among other uses.
All bingo operators are required to partner with a charity to operate in South Carolina. It turns out that percentage is higher than the state average in SC, which is around 1.61 percent.
Non-bingo charities gave an average of 52.3 percent to their client charities, according to the report.
Schwindel said she's proud of her $19,000 contribution to the charity and feels like the Secretary of State's report doesn't tell the whole story.
"It's very misleading, and it's a little disheartening to a small business owner, because it just shows what our gross sales are," she said. "It doesn't show after prizes are paid out, which is 85 percent of our take in in one day's business. Those other charities that are showing at 40 and 50 percent don't have the overhead that we have."
WMBF News dug through the 79-page report to find other area bingo-charity fundraiser payout percentages that are listed with lower charity payouts.
According to the Secretary of State's report, a bingo-charity partnership in Florence lost 1.6 percent, while one in Conway paid out .42 percent. Then there was the North Myrtle Beach High School Chiefs Athletic Booster Club Bingo partner, which paid out zero percent last year after expenses.
Although the treasurer of the club said the Chiefs still made more than $50,000 in rebates from the state through the bingo partnership. Secretary of State representatives provided the following statement:
Secretary of State Mark Hammond said his hands are tied when it comes to payout requirements.
"There's been a lot of Supreme Court cases, and there's a separation of church and state, and it's been told that we can't mandate a percentage that has to go to charitable purposes," Hammond said. "So what we have to do is - and we do this every year, and we also run commercials, and we have a toll free telephone number and a website - to inform the public that they need to check these charitable organizations out before they give. Unfortunately, many of these games only result in the charity receiving the bingo tax rebate required by law and sometimes less than that depending on the expenses claimed by the bingo promoter. The real question to be answered is whether the term 'charitable bingo' is a misnomer, and says that is something that the public and lawmakers must answer for themselves."
Schwindel was asked if she felt like there are a lot of other bingo halls that are keeping some more profit and making more profit, and not paying as much as her group is to their charity.
"Absolutely, and I give an extra three percent more than what's required to my charity," she said.
Whether a person chooses to play bingo or donate their money directly to a charity, Schwindel said she has nothing to hide.
"I'm going to tell you, I've taken it pretty personal to be even considered a Scrooge for the contributions that my family has made to this business, the things that my employees have given in the community, and we go out (and) we do public service. They've helped with halfway houses," she said. "There's all kinds of things. So, even though we're listed one point one, which was super high for our business, to be considered on the lower end and maybe on the Scrooge list is really unfair."
For information on various charities or fundraisers, click here. Here is a list from the S.O.S, showing area groups and violations.
The Department of Revenue provided the following information regarding area bingo hall violations:
Chiefs Athletic Booster Club - 1
- Did not update employee list with DOR within 30 days
Order of Sons of Italy - 0
Syrian Lebanon American Society - 2 with 1 pending
- Changed a day of play and did not notify DOR within 30 days
- Sold paper after the game started
- Pending violation: did not notify DOR of an employee change within 30 days (They can appeal pending violation within 90 days.
See the Secretary of State's complete Angels and Scrooges list for 2016 below: