by Howard Ballou
Mississippi still ranks at the top of the nation when it comes to charitable giving. That word from Secretary of State Eric Clark as he released the Ninth Annual Comprehensive Financial Report on Charties Operating in Mississippi.
This year's report is the first to contain financial information on charitable giving since Hurricane Katrina. Secretary Clark said, "All of y'all know that Mississippi ranks at or near the top every year in what's called the generosity index that our people are always about the most generous in the country in terms of giving to church and charity as a percentage of our income.."
Clark said 76 charities registered after the hurricane just to raise money for storm victims. He said 18 previously registered charities expanded their mission to include Katrina relief. There are now 55 Katrina-related charities based in Mississippi, but not all have had the best interest of storm victims at heart. Said Clark, "..there are three of them that we found that were scamming people and we have shut them down."
The three organizations disciplined by Clark's office are Hurricane Relief Corps and it's agent, Joe Gately, LaMal and Friends, Inc. and Youth Solutions, Inc. Clark said, "..we always want our citizens to be informed to give wisely as well as generously and we are always aggressive in the Secretary of State's office in overseeing charities' solicitations in Mississippi because we don't want our people scammed."
To make sure you are giving and not being taken by a charitable organization, Clark offers several tips including these: do not give cash, keep records of your donations, don't be fooled by names that look impressive, check the organization and ask if your contribution is tax deductible.
So how does Mississippi rank this year on the "generosity index"? Number two...Arkansas is number one. The "generosity index" is compiled by the catalogue for philanthropy in Boston.
The complete report is available on the Secretary of State's website at www.sos.state.ms.us.