COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – If you’re making a donation on Giving Tuesday, state leaders want you to make an informed decision before you open up your wallet.

State law requires most nonprofit organizations soliciting donations in South Carolina to register with the Secretary of State’s office. Officials say there are more than 16,000 registered charities right now.

Secretary Mark Hammond said, “Give from the heart but please give smart.”

According to Secretary Hammond, solicitations for donations go up during the holidays. He said there are three things you should remember before donating.

Check to see if a charity is registered through his office. Ask what the charity’s mission is and how much money will go to their mission. Notify the Secretary of State’s Office if you have concerns about an organization.

“South Carolina is one of the most generous states in the nation. We want to help others. But we want our donors to check these organizations out before they give,” Hammond said.

To educate potential donors, there is a public database where you can look up a charity to see if it is verified. Secretary Hammond said you can also see what percentage of the money a charity receives goes to program services.

“Donors need to make sure their money is going towards the programs and not a professional fundraiser and will help those in need,” said Hammond.

The Better Business Bureau cautions donors from contributing to any charity that spends less than 65% on program services.

To lookup the financial information of registered charities click or tap here.