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

Letter Writing
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


The students will write a business letter to the service professional organization they have chosen requesting information about the organization and its cause. This information will be the foundation for the research paper each student will write.


Two Forty-Minute Class Periods


Students will write a business letter, which includes appropriate greetings, heading, closings, and a professional tone, to a philanthropic organization requesting information.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

The students will write a formal business letter to a service organization. The letter should be typed or word-processed in a professional manner.


Overhead projector, paper, writing utensils

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Draw two intersecting circles (Venn diagram) on the board or overhead projector. Label the left side "Personal Letter,” the right side "Business Letter,” and the middle “Similarities.” Next, ask students to picture in their minds a personal letter and a business letter. Fill in the Venn diagram by brainstorming differences and similarities of both.

  • Remind students that they should have researched topics and organizations of interest to them and selected an organization with which to research and work Tell students that they will write a letter to their chosen organization. Ask the students to brainstorm a list of information that should be included in the letter to the philanthropic organizations.
  • KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learn): Assess what the students already know about letter writing. Then ask the students what additional information they will need in order to write a business letter soliciting information from the organization each of them has chosen. Provide the students with that information on the overhead or one-on-one if only a few students seem confused.
  • Discuss the requirements for the letter with the students. The letter should have appropriate greetings and closings for a business letter, and the body of the letter should have a professional tone.
  • The writing process should be used to write this letter. The students should show evidence of drafting, revising, peer editing, proofreading, and polishing.


An exceptional letter will be typed, will have an appropriate greeting, and have a closing which is appropriate for a business letter. There should be few or no spelling or grammatical errors in the letter. The content of the letter should be focused and the tone should be professional.

A proficient letter might have a few spelling or grammar errors and the content might not be organized or focused well.

A limited letter is not typed and does not fit the format of a business letter.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

In computer science class the students can demonstrate their proficiency using word-processing software to create their business letters.

Bibliographical References:

  • Sebranek, Patrick, Verne Meyer and Dave Kemper. WriteSource 2000: A Guide to Writing, Thinking and Learning. Wilmington, MA: D.C. Heath and Co., 1995, Sections 203-219.

Lesson Developed By:

Liz Hollingworth
Williamston Community Schools
Williamston Middle School
Williamston, MI 48895


Philanthropy Framework:


Patricia, Teacher – Saginaw, MI11/1/2007 2:50:08 PM

(The positive aspects of using this lesson were) the lesson reinforces the writing process and has relevancy.

Amy, Other – New York, NY12/8/2010 1:39:32 PM

A very well designed lesson plan. I appreciate your efforts. Keep it up!

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