Bang for the Buck
How can you promote "charitable literacy"
in children? Bruce Miller, a reader of
More Than Money
, is hoping to create a new generation of givers
by sponsoring a classroom program developed by Charity Checks,
a nonprofit organization based in California. Thanks to
Miller and other sponsors, children around the country are
researching solutions to problems around them and identifying
and supporting nonprofits that share their concerns.
Charity Checks, founded by Lisa Sonne and
her husband, Victor Dorff, have created a new twist in the
philanthropic field with Giving Certificates. These certificates
look like checks, are given as gifts, and are then made
out to any eligible organization by the gift recipient.
(Gift givers make a tax-deductible contribution to Charity
Checks and receive Giving Certificates equal in value to
their donation. The certificates are then passed on to family,
friends, or business associates, who choose the organization
to receive the donation.) Giving Certificates can also be
used to give anonymously to charities. As Miller expresses
it, "Charity Checks combine the altruism of Mother Teresa
with the business efficiency of Warren Buffett."
Charity Checks' Charitable Literacy Program
incorporates Giving Certificates into school curricula.
Each child in the program receives a Giving Certificate
and then passes it on to one of the almost one million 501(c)(3)
organizations in the United States. Classroom sponsors like
Miller donate the Giving Certificates; after much research
students choose their favorite charity, fill out the certificates,
and perhaps even make a presentation to classmates about
their chosen charity.
The reasons kids pick particular charities
are sometimes heartbreaking, and often insightful. "I'd
like to give my check to the Alzheimer's Foundation," said
a firstgrade girl, "because my grandmother doesn't have
any memories, and everybody should have memories." Another
student in the same class was not content to give to a group
that helped the victims of a recent hurricane; he wanted
to give to people who would stop hurricanes in the future,
"so there will never be any more victims." His Giving Certificate
went to a nonprofit organization that is researching hurricanes.
"With this level of understanding and empathy," wonders
Sonne, "what kind of philanthropists will these children
be when they are grown?"
Sample school curricula and details on ordering
Giving Certificates are available on the Charity Checks
website (www.charitychecks.us). The curricula can also be
downloaded and adapted for family use.
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