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

Designing Your Philanthropic Collage: Penny Drive
Lesson 1:
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Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


This lesson will have learners examine their lives and ambitions, and explore how philanthropy is a daily activity. Through this lesson, the learners will be able to better recognize acts of “everyday philanthropy” and come to better understand their personal traits, and the impact that these might have on their personal philanthropic involvement. This lesson may be used with a penny drive or penny war to raise money for a charity.


One Fifty Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • understand and recognize philanthropic characteristics, traits, and actions in themselves and others.
  • assess their own lives and identify the acts of philanthropy they do and/or are interested in doing.
  • become more aware of "self" and the important impact they can have in their home, school, community, and world.
  • reflect on their personal involvement in the Penny Drive.

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 class may hold a penny drive to raise money for a chosen cause. To hold the competition, each class or team competes against all others. Each team has a jar in a central location labeled with the team name and the charity they are raising money for. The idea is to earn the most money for your class or grade. In a penny war, teams try to collect the most pennies, and silver coins count against their total. This creates a competition where other teams try to sabotage the other teams by adding silver coins or dollar bills to the competitors' jars. The value of the coins count against the total, so a quarter subtracts 25 points from a jar of pennies. You can have two winners: one winner is the team that has the most points and another winner collects the highest monetary value.


  • poster board and colored paper
  • scissors, tape, glue, crayons/markers
  • an assortment of newspapers and magazines
  • Student copies of Attachment One: Philanthropic Traits and Actions
  • Student copies of Attachment Two: My Giving Plan - My Pledge
  • legal-size envelopes, one for each learner
Handout 1
"Philanthropic Traits and Actions"
Handout 2
"My Giving Plan: My Pledge"

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Begin the class by placing the following quote from Gloria Steinem on the display board. (She is a writer, activist and founder of the MS Magazine.  She is one of the leaders of the modern women’s rights movement.)

“The future depends entirely on what each of us does each day.”

Ask the learners to share what it is that they think Ms. Steinem is attempting to say, and advocate for, in her quote.  Following this discussion, place these two quotes on the display board as well, and encourage the learners to share what they feel is the intent of each of these quotes and how they are similar/different from Ms Steinem’s quote:

“ When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”
       -Eleanor Roosevelt

“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood, but everyone has something to give.”
       - Barbara Bush

Share that some would consider Barbara Bush’s quote to be an excellent description of what philanthropist do.  If that is true, what are some of the things a philanthropist does based on her quote?

(Teacher Note: You may recall that Barbara Bush’s quote appeared in the Introduction to Philanthropy Unit.  If that unit was taught, this would be a good time to review with the learners what they recall from that earlier discussion.)

  • Distribute a sheet of paper and a pencil to each learner.  Ask learners to make two columns on their paper.  Label one column “Philanthropic Traits” and the other column “Philanthropic Actions”.  Invite the learners to list words or phrases under each column that represent words that would be used to describe the character traits and actions of a philanthropist.  Allow the learners time to list words or phrases under each column.  After a few minutes distribute Attachment One: Philanthropic Traits and Actions having the learners see if they listed some of the traits/actions identified in the handout.  Allow the learners a few more minutes to add to their lists.

  • Divide the class into groups of 4 - 6 students.  Ask them to share their lists and discuss the similarities and differences.  Allow a few minutes for the students to revise their lists again based on the peer input.  Ask them to circle those traits they hope to be recognized for and those actions they plan to take. 

  • Explain that the learners will be using this list as a starting point to make a philanthropic collage about themselves.  Ask them to make a collage of their philanthropic traits and actions, i.e. words and actions that describe them as the philanthropist they are or would like to be.  Encourage them to use their creativity in making a collage that represents them and their own personal interests, talents and skills - a collage that represents the actions they take to share their time, talent and treasures for the common good.

  • Give each learner a piece of colored paper, a poster-board, along with a few newspapers and magazines, and additional colored paper for symbols and drawings, plus scissors, tape or glue, and crayons/markers.

  • When the learners have finished their collages, ask them to share their collages, explaining to the group some of the actions and traits that represent them.

  • Conclude the lesson by having the learners reflect on how what they chose to represent about themselves, might help them to determine their personal involvement in the LEAGUE Penny Drive.

  • Distribute a Legal-Size envelop and a copy of Attachment Two: My Giving Plan - My Pledge to each learner.  Have the learners place their name on the outside of the envelop, complete their “My Giving Plan - My Pledge” and then seal it in the envelope for collection and redistribution after the Penny Drive is completed.


The involvement and depth of insight shared during the class discussions as well as a completed collage that reflects thought and insight forms the basis for the assessment of this lesson.

Learning Link(s): (click to view)

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Ask family members and friends about words they would use to describe the learner as a philanthropist.  Find out what philanthropic actions each family member has performed in his/her life.  Have the learners share with their family members their “Giving Plan” and seek their comments/suggestions and support. Discuss ways that the family might get involved in a family philanthropy project.

Reflection: (click to view)

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Dennis VanHaitsma
Curriculum Consultant
Learning to Give


Handout 1Print Handout 1

"Philanthropic Traits and Actions"

Some Common Philanthropic Traits:

caring                 giving                    helpful             serving
altruistic             concerned             just                   fair
cooperative        understanding      charitable         generous
humanitarian      selfless                 virtuous            supportive
respectful           advocate               trustworthy      responsible

Some Philanthropic Actions:

Help clean up a neighborhood
Lead a school debate about school policy
Write letters to a legislator
Organize a community clean up
Plant flowers in the neighborhood
Volunteer at a senior center
Tutor a younger student
Raise money for a good cause
Make a bequest
Establish a foundation

Handout 2Print Handout 2

"My Giving Plan: My Pledge"

After reflecting on my personal Philanthropic Traits and the Philanthropic Activities that I am presently involved in or would like to be involved in, I would like to contribute $_______ to the Penny Drive. 

I will need to take the following steps in order to make this contribution:

After reflecting on my personal Philanthropic Traits and the Philanthropic Activities, I am also considering involving myself in the following Philanthropic Activity.



I will need to take the following steps in order to do the Philanthropic
Activity listed above.

I am making a personal pledge to donate to the Penny Drive as well as to involve myself in at least one additional philanthropic act.

Signature  ______________________________________

Date  ___________________________

Philanthropy Framework:


Wesley, LEAGUE Coach Romulus, MI5/31/2007 7:13:13 PM

(This lesson is a) good team building activity among the individual class

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Designing Your Philanthropic Collage: Penny Drive Summary


Designing Your Philanthropic Collage: Penny Drive

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