Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Democracy, The Common Good, and the Third Sector
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students will begin to ponder the essential questions regarding philanthropy, which they will consider throughout the unit. They will formulate answers, and be familiar with the terms associated with philanthropy and democracy.


Three to Five Forty-Five Minute Class Periods


The learner will:

  • Analyze and discuss an essay that explores American attitudes toward children.
  • Define, use and explain the historical significance of seven terms related to philanthropy.
  • Describe why philanthropy is important in maintaining a democracy by answering three essential questions.


  • Short videotape: If God Gives You Lemons (see Bibliographic References).
  • Barbara Kingsolver's essay "Somebody's Baby" from High Tide in Tucson or a similar essay that addresses the importance of community in our lives.
  • Articles about philanthropy and democracy (e.g., "Philanthropy Described in Democracy in America by de Tocqueville"  http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper48.html)
  • Philanthropy Vocabulary (see Attachment One)
  • Student Journals
Handout 1
Philanthropy Vocabulary

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
View short videotape If God Gives You Lemons and discuss the actions of the boy in the film. Ask students what they would have done in his place.

  • Introduce the essay "Somebody's Baby" from High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never. In the essay, author Barbara Kingsolver discusses the importance of community in raising children. Read the essay together.
  • Divide the class into small groups and give each group one of the following questions to answer:
    • What does Kingsolver complain is the problem with America's attitudes toward children? Do you agree with her? Explain.
    • What does Kingsolver suggest it takes to raise children?
    • What does Kingsolver say is the most remarkable feature of human culture?
    • Based on this essay, what could you infer that Kingsolver feels about community and its importance?
    • Kingsolver's essay is about the relationship between community and children. Are there any other groups of people that could be included?
  • Once groups have completed their tasks, conduct a class discussion of the questions.
  • Introduce the essential questions:
    • Should students be responsible to their communities for caring and giving?
    • What role does philanthropy play in maintaining our democratic society?
    • Can one person make a difference in making the world a better place?
    Students will write these questions in their journals, and begin to think about them, but will not answer them in writing.
  • Students will define the following terms in their journals: philanthropy, democracy, altruism, volunteer, first, second, third, and fourth sectors. As each term is discussed, the teacher should lead a short discussion of the history of each term, drawing on students' previous knowledge. See Philanthropy Vocabulary (Attachment One).
  • Assign reading of articles on Philanthropy and Democracy (see Materials) or on the Internet by searching the "Third Sector." Highlight and discuss important information.
  • Students are now ready to write brief responses to the essential questions (see above) based on their current knowledge.


The Somebody’s Baby class discussion is evaluated using teacher observation. Journals are evaluated based on completeness. A quiz on the terms that were introduced should be given when most students have mastered them.

Bibliographical References:

  • Learning to Give briefing paper: "Philanthropy Described in Democracy in America by de Tocqueville"  http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper48.html)
  • Kingsolver, Barbara. "Somebody’s Baby," High Tide in Tucson: Essays From Now or Never. Harper-Collins, 1996.
  • If God Gives You Lemons, prod. and dir. Gregory Siers, 11 min. followed by 12 min. interview, K-12 Education in Philanthropy Project, 1998, videocassette.

Lesson Developed By:

Kathy Hurst
Romulus Community Schools
Romulus Senior High School
Romulus, MI 48174

Serena Fraser Kessler
Romulus Community Schools
Romulus Senior High School
Romulus, MI 48174


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Philanthropy Vocabulary

the giving of one's time, talent or treasure (wealth) for the sake of another or for the common good; voluntary action for the common good; voluntary giving, voluntary service, voluntary association, primarily for the benefit of others; giving and serving; active effort to promote human welfare; a tradition, a spirit, and a sector of society

a form of government exercised either directly by the people or through their elected representatives; rule by the majority; the practice of legal, political, or social equality

selfless concern for the welfare of others

one who performs a service or good work for others without pay. (Identify that the word "volunteer" means board members and other people who give time, talent or financial support without receiving compensation. Staff members, employed by the organization, may be paid for their work.)

first sector:

second sector:
private or "for-profit" businesses

third sector:
the sector that is not government, nor business; the nonprofit sector

fourth sector:
a sector of partnerships, involving collaboration between the nonprofit (civil society) sector and government and business at all levels. The "fourth sector" is not a particular sector in the traditional sense-rather it is a relationship between sectors, acknowledging the legitimacy of all three (government, business and nonprofit) and encouraging their active partnership in addressing social problems.

Philanthropy Framework:

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