Find Your Charity. Eliminate The Chore.

There is an ongoing debate whether schools should mandate volunteerism in the schools and what is the appropriate amount of community service requirements needed for Freshman to Seniors in high school to graduate.

As reported in EdLab report: "Debate Over Making Community Service Mandatory in High Schools" written by Duncan Asiedu, 1/11/2011, http://bit.ly/1lruyKv

There is an ongoing debate that seems to be at the center of much attention is whether community service should be mandatory in America's high schools. Numerous schools across the country have mandated that in order for their students to graduate, they must complete a predetermined amount of community service. This action though has been met with opposition from various groups who have denounced its mandatory enforcement.

Proponents of mandatory community service argue that it helps build leadership skills in students and better prepares them for future jobs in which leadership is valued. Opponents of mandatory community service express the belief that community service isn't a subject that should be forced upon students. True volunteering lies in an individual's will and drive to help others and enforcing it eliminates that drive. By forcing students to do community service, school officials are essentially doing the equivalent of the mandatory system practiced in penitentiaries across the nation.

The Lynbrook School district, Lynbrook, NY mandates in the 2015/2016 Student Handbook... "Students in grades 9 - 12 must complete community service annually as part of their graduation requirement as follows: If a student is involved in any activity, such as our food drive, is a member of SADD, Friends, Key Club, LHS Leadership Club, or NHS, he/she will easily complete the required hours - most likely, many more. Students, who, are involved in their churches, temples, youth groups, and other outside of school activities may apply appropriate work to their service requirement."

As reported by Stewart Ain, in March 23, 2003 issue of the New York Times, "The Logic of 'Mandatory Volunteerism", An 18-year-old senior at Roslyn High School, has put in more than 350 hours of community service at various sites, including at her former elementary school and Hebrew school. It all began because her high school requires students to perform 40 hours of community service in order to graduate. ''If it was not mandatory, I never would have looked into doing it,'' she said. ''But once I started, I liked it. And I have continued doing it because I realize how important it is to help other people. It has been very fulfilling for me.'' The student added that she believes community service should be mandated at all high schools because ''most kids don't even consider doing community service on their own. Source: http://nyti.ms/1XZeOKg

How often do we casually write checks to organization's fulfilling our "obligation" to our philanthropic and moral duties but undoubtedly have no idea what the organization does or how your money will be used? What charities do we choose to support and why? Is it because of word of mouth, the color of the logo, a 30 min infomercial that we see on TV for Unicef or Feed the Children. Non-Profit organizations pull on your emotional heartstrings with the hope to play on your emotions, ignite your moral and philanthropic obligation, drive awareness and of course raise funds.

As reported in the International Business Times, March 2013 of the "50 worst charities". You will see the donation impact and the self serving profits they take as management fees, administration cost, huge expenses with limited direct distribution to the recipients the charity they try to support. The impact of these organizations are great but the lack of distribution of funds is appalling. Below is a list of the 10 top worst charities in America, their donation amounts and profits. http://bit.ly/1N9rStG

1. Kids Wish Network: Donations: 127.8 mil Solicitor Profits: 109.8 mil
2. Cancer Fund of America: Donations: 98.0 mil Solicitor Profits: 80.4 mil
3. Children's Wish Foundation Intl: Donations: 96.8 mil Solicitor Profits 63.6 mil
4. American Breast Cancer Found. Donations: 80.8 mil Solicitor Profits: 59.8 mil
5. Firefighters Charitable Found:. Donations: 63.8 mil Solicitor Profits: 54.7 mil
6. Breast Cancer Relief Found.:: Donations: 63.9 mi Solicitor Profits: 44.8 mil
7. Intl Union of Police Assoc AFL-CIO: Donations: 57.2 mil Solicitor Profits: 41.4 mil
8. National Veterans Service Fund: Donations: 70.2 mil Solicitor Profits: 36.9 mil
9. American Assoc of State Troopers: Donations: 45.0 mil Solicitor Profits: 36.0 mil
10. Children's Cancer Fund of America: Donations: 37.5 mil Solicitor Profits: 29.2 mi

Additionally, when you look at a similar list from SmartAsset.com, October 21, 2015, "The 50 Worst Charities in America- How to Keep from Being Scammed", you will see not much has changed in the last 2 years. Below is a list of the worst 10 charities sourced by SmartAsset.com. http://bit.ly/1NfYwaU

1. Kids Wish Network
2. Cancer Fund of America
3. Children's Wish Foundation International
4. American Breast Cancer Foundation
5. Firefighters Charitable Foundation
6. Breast Cancer Relief Foundation
7. International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
8. National Veterans Service Fund
9. American Association of State Troopers
10. Children's Cancer Fund of America

How are we teaching our children about social responsibility, charitable commitments to philanthropic causes that are personal to them? How do we change the philosophy of "having to support vs wanting to support". The idea of giving is very overwhelming because of all the choices (known and unknown) that are available. What connection can be made that encourages our children to take-up proactive causes for the good of their community or national charities? What steps do we need to take in order for our younger generation to feel the overwhelming compassion to support and show charitable actions to families, non-profits, community programs and personal causes meaningful to them? What age do we share the challenges and struggles of others? How long do we insulate them from the real world? A lot of personal questions with very debatable answers.

We need to send a clear message to our children in their early development, philanthropy and charity is not about writing checks to unknown causes but being part of a movement to make a change in someone's life for the better. We also need to educate our children at an early age about the vast choices in organizations and the role they may want to take in helping others. Children need to make emotional choices about their causes. There are a few great websites that helps navigate the charity choices.

Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) works to guide intelligent giving. By guiding intelligent giving, Charity Navigator aims to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation's and the world's most persistent challenges.

When the time comes for schools to mandate volunteerism, our children will already be prepared, willing and able to support in any capacity needed. Doing charitable work should not be perceived as a "one and done", a check mark on your tax planning list or a rush to acquire community service hours so it looks good on college applications, but a continued effort whether financial or physical that this is something they truly believe in and what to support as little or as much as possible. Once you make an emotional connection to an organization(s) of choice, the understanding of your role will be much more gratifying than a signature on a check. Find your charity...Eliminate the chore

David Bernstein
Founder and President
The Fly A Kite Foundation
David@flyakitefoundation.org

"Yesterday is gone, live for today, let tomorrow be your inspiration and future."