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National Charity League (NCL): Is it worth it?

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NCL Basics

National Charity League (commonly referred to as NCL) is an organization for mothers and their daughters, from 7th to 12th grade. It fosters the mother-daughter relationship through service to the community. Additional benefits such as leadership development and exposure to cultural experiences are also an integral part of the program. The 6-year program is developed to help girls as they navigate through middle and high school. 

The girls are grouped by their grade level in school. The girls are called Ticktockers, and the moms are called Patronesses. A funny story about Ticktockers is that they got their name because, at the beginning of NCL, they were “watching the clock” to see when meetings would be over. Not sure about the origin of the name Patroness, but the definition is a woman who supports an organization…so that makes sense to me.

What is a NCL Chapter?

NCL Mother and daughter
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NCL is a national organization that has chapters all across the United States. The Chapters usually are comprised of a particular area or cities. However, there could be some overlap if you are in a place where NCL is relatively common. When there is overlap, I recommend looking at the different chapters in your area to see which one would be the best fit for your daughter.

Keep in mind each grade/class typically has approximately 30 girls. Obviously, each year the 7th-grade class is entirely empty. However, it is up to each Chapter on whether or not they will open up their membership drive for grades 8th through 12th. It typically depends on how many girls they currently have in each class. I will say, in my experience, I have never seen a 12th-grade class open up for the membership drive. Therefore, I would recommend trying to get in while your daughter is in 7th grade or maybe 8th grade. As you can imagine, getting your daughter into a chapter in 8th grade might be a little trickier just because there are fewer spots available.

Why the limit on class size? I don’t know for sure, but my gut tells me it’s to help keep it manageable for the mom volunteers who lead the classes. Each class of Ticktockers is led by a mom who is called a Grade Level Advisor or (GLA). I can’t imagine being a GLA and having 40-50 girls guide through the school year. 30ish seems like a more reasonable number.

What are the Requirements as a Member of NCL?

NCL Requirements
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Every year, there are requirements that must be met to be a member in good standing for both the moms and daughters.  Both mothers and daughters have meeting, event, and hours requirements. The hours are broken into philanthropy hours and league hours. The requirements are set by each Chapter, so do your research when looking to join. One requirement that is consistent across all chapters is attending the annual tea. 

There are also financial requirements, which I don’t really like talking about, but it is necessary to discuss. NCL isn’t cheap. Again, do your research on the chapters you are considering. Some chapter’s yearly dues are much more than other chapters. Why, you ask? One reason could be that their events, such as the Tea, Junior Style Show, and Senior Recognition, might be on a grander scale. The more extravagant the event, the more it costs, and the more dues are needed to pull off those events. It could be that budget for the Grade Level Events, or the Ticktocker Retreat is also more. Regardless, the yearly dues are definitely something you need to know going in.

Lastly, some chapters have reduced hour requirements for 7th and 12th graders; some only reduce them for the 12th graders. Other Chapters keep the requirements the same across all 6 years. Do your research if you are considering multiple chapters.

How does NCL Help my Daughter?

NCL Ticktockers
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My opinion is that NCL is very beneficial to young women. It opens their eyes to different needs in the community. It’s one thing to hear about people living in poverty. Still, it’s much more impactful when you and your daughter work with a non-profit to deliver furniture to someone living in an empty apartment. I have had several experiences with my daughters that I believe they will never forget. I hope that they have learned how much they really can make a difference in the world, so they will want to serve their community for the rest of their lives. 

These girls also learn leadership qualities because they have to run their own meetings. They learn how to make motions, create agendas, take minutes, manage a budget and contribute in various other ways. Each Ticktocker has a job/position in her class that changes every year. That job will have specific tasks that will need to be completed throughout the year. Some of the positions might be elected, and some are appointed. It depends on the Chapter and the class. The Grade Level Advisor will help the girls will their jobs, but the girls also have Patroness Partners that are like mentors to help them throughout the year.

Last but not least, it is something to add to a college application. While just being a member of NCL, doing the minimum requirements is good. I think some girls forget that NCL is a great place for a girl to make a significant impact on the community, and I think that’s more of what colleges want to see. Since NCL is expanding so quickly, just having a one-liner that your daughter was in NCL for 6 years is not as impressive as it might have been in the past. However, if your daughter can add that she held a leadership role in her class and volunteered 100 hours for various non-profits. That might catch someone’s eye, just a theory of mine.

Does NCL Benefit the Moms?

NCL Patroness & Ticktocker
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The best part is spending time with your daughter doing something meaningful. Our girls may not always see it that way, especially in the first couple of years. However, as our daughters get closer to graduation, the time together becomes more special to them as well. They start to realize and appreciate how much time you have put into NCL to have these times together. At least that has been my experience with my two girls. I see it at the Senior Recognition event each year when the girls write a tribute to their moms, thanking them for being with them along this 6-year journey. Yes – they have to write the tribute, but it’s still very sweet. 😉

I have also developed many friendships with NCL moms. We all have a common goal of getting our girls some different experiences, so I have found many moms who think about the world similarly. It’s great to be around moms that want to help develop these girls into the leaders of tomorrow.

How do we Become Members of NCL?

NCL Members
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Typically, the membership drive starts in the Fall and ends in the Spring. My first recommendation is to go to the NCL Inc. Website and find the chapters in your area. You will click on your state, then your city, or one close to you. You will then see a list of Chapters; when you click on the Chapter, it will take you to that Chapter’s public website, where you can learn more information. There should be a link to click on a Membership Inquiry Form and a link to email the VP of Membership.  

In September or October, go to each of those chapters’ public websites and fill out the Membership Inquiry Form. I would also email the VP of Membership just to make sure they got your form submission. Technology doesn’t always work the way we want it to, so an email just to follow up doesn’t hurt. Don’t worry about inquiring to multiple chapters; you are just gathering info at this point. 

Remember, the Membership Drive is for the next school year. So, if your daughter wants to join in 7th grade, you should be finding the chapters you want to look at in the Fall semester of 6th grade. It’s crazy, but that’s the way it goes…at least at the time of this writing.

Each Chapter will likely hold information sessions in November, December, January timeframes. Attend these so you can find the time & financial requirements of each Chapter and get a feel of the way they do things. Research them on social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram to see if you think they are a good fit for you and your daughter.  Also, if you can find out if your daughter’s friends are applying to a specific Chapter, that might influence your decision one way or another. 

When you have figured out which Chapter fits you best, you need to apply to that one. Unfortunately, right now, you can only apply to one. If that class fills up before you get in, you might be able to join another chapter in your area. Some chapters have reciprocal agreements with other Chapters. This means if there isn’t room for you in the Chapter you applied to, you will be contacted if there is room for you in another Chapter that is a reciprocal partner. They really do want you; they just can’t have class sizes that are too difficult to manage. 

National Charity League: Bottom Line

If you have a daughter in 5th, 6th, or even 7th grade…definitely look into National Charity League. Obviously, timing matters if your daughter is in 6th or 7th grade. It may or may not be for you. However, if you are looking for a supportive organization for your daughter to grow as a leader and a member of the community, NCL is worth serious consideration.