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

Decision-Making Model
Lesson 3
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students will use a decision-making model to decide where to donate their collected money. They will evaluate what is most important to them and list possible choices. Based on the decision-making process, the class will come to consensus on how to spend money earned together.


One Forty-Five Minute Class Period


The learners will:
  • review the vocabulary words from Lesson One: Save, Spend and Donate.

  • use a decision-making process.

  • define how choices can affect the entire community.

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.

Students will identify needs and propose plans. They will come to consensus on which plan they will carry out that uses the money they collected to the best common good. At the end of the unit, they will deliver the money to the recipient.


  • Decision-Making Model Grid (Attachment One: Decision-Making Model)

  • Three charts from Lesson One: Save, Spend and Donate with definitions of save, spend and donate
Handout 1
Decision-Making Model

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Review the chart with the definition of donate on it. Review the definition of philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talent or treasure for the common good. Introduce the word charity if it isn’t there. Tell the students that today they will come to a consensus as to how the money they are collecting will be spent for charity. Talk about how much money has been collected so far. Put the amount into terms they can understand such as, “This is enough money to buy a meal for a family of four.” Discuss how the decision they make will affect the members of the class and the people who receive the gift.

  • Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community. (There are many communities that are affected, including the classroom, families and local community.)

  • Tell the students that you know a fair way to make decisions. The class is going to use a decision-making model to make a decision together that we can all live with. The model has four steps: select choices, rate what is important, evaluate and make a decision. Draw a decision-making grid on the board or overhead projector (see the model on Attachment One: Decision-Making Model).

  • Ask “What could we save our class money for?” Write their suggestions in the left column under “choices.” These may be names of local charitable organizations. Include suggestions such as buying a gerbil for a class pet. These choices can go through the process, but will be rated low if the questions are geared toward benefiting others. You can have more than five options.

  • Talk about some of the issues that should be considered as they rate their choices: How can we use limited resources to the best advantage? What is a need in the local community? What is a community? (A community is when people come together for the common good.) What is the difference between private property and common resources?

  • Tell the students that we need to have some criteria for making a choice that everyone can support. Fill in the top row with the following questions or questions that are important to you and your class: 1) Will our donation benefit people outside our classroom? 2) Will we have enough money for it? 3) Is it a local charity? 4) How many people will be affected by our donation (estimate)?

  • Rate each choice with the class. Have them raise their hands and take a tally after you ask each question. For example, the first choice is to give to a local soup kitchen. Ask each of the questions (1-4) and count the number of children who respond yes. Write that number in the appropriate box.

  • Define opportunity costs as the things we have to give up in order to give or share for the common good.

  • Evaluate the number of positive responses for each question and choice. Compare and discuss the results and make a decision together. The decision should be based on the highest number of positive responses.

  • Debrief after you make a decision: “What do you think of the process used?”


Teacher observation of student participation in the decision-making process.

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    Copy the decision-making grid from the classroom discussion. Then make enough copies for each student. Send home the copy with a request that parents ask their child about the process.

Bibliographical References:

“Decision-Making Model Grid” from Master Curriculum Guide. Teaching Strategies, 3-4. National Council on Economic Education.

Lesson Developed By:

Thomas Townsel
Detroit Public Schools
Langston Hughes
Detroit, MI 48235


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Decision-Making Model

Choices What’s Important to Us? (Criteria)






Decision-Making Model Steps

  1. Select choices/Determine criteria

  2. Rate (what is really important to you?)

  3. Evaluate

  4. Make a decision.

Philanthropy Framework:

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