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

"Society of Friends" and Society (The )
Lesson 3
From Unit: How Did We Help?
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students will research the "Society of Friends"/ Quakers and describe how this group promoted the common good. The Quakers pushed for religious freedom and freedom of choice, which are Core Democratic Values. As a group, they formed organizations to promote social change in the areas of slavery, prison conditions, poverty, Native American affairs and other social causes.


One Forty-Five to Fifty Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • describe and evaluate contributions of Quakers to American life.
  • explain how the beliefs and actions of the Quakers helped to further the common good and democratic values.


  • Practice (Attachment One)
  • Core Democratic Values (Attachment Two)
Handout 1
Handout 2
Core Democratic Values

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Ask the students what they would do if they were not allowed to practice their religion and were even punished because of it. Would they consider moving to another country? Would they try to help the people who mistreated them?

  • Using print sources or the Internet, ask the learners to research the Society of Friends (Quakers) to obtain basic information about their founding, coming to the New World, beliefs and practices. Remind the learners that, while the Quakers were created in 1652, the group still exists today. After a sufficient amount of time has been provided for the research, ask for the information learners have found.
  • Introduce the initial Quaker movement into the new land. Talk about why they came and what happened to them when they got here (see Bibliographical References for background information).
  • Distribute copies of Practice (Attachment One). Read it and discuss together.
  • Distribute copies of Core Democratic Values (Attachment Two). Have the students compare the contributions of the Friends to the Core Democratic Values. Which ones are similar? Can it be said that the beliefs and actions of the Quakers helped to further the common good? How did the actions of the Friends show respect for others?
  • Put the term philanthropy on the chalkboard. Explain that it is the giving of one's time, talent or treasure for the sake of another or for the common good. Do the actions of the Society of Friends constitute examples of philanthropy? How? Is acting philanthropically good for the community or nation? Ask students to orally evaluate the consequences of Quaker beliefs, values and actions on American life.


Students' contributions to research information, as well as making the connections to the Core Democratic Values, may be used as assessments.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

In 1688, a group of Friends in Germantown, Pennsylvania, took a public stand against slavery. This is believed to be the first stirrings within a religious organization of the abolitionist movement in America. As a homework assignment or an extension of the day's learning, have students further their research to investigate the role of the Friends in the abolition movement.

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Pamela McIntosh
Detroit Public Schools
Woodward Elementary School
Detroit, MI 48208


Handout 1Print Handout 1



The Quakers have made significant contributions in the promotion of tolerance, peace and justice than any other Christian denomination during the colonial period in North America.. They have been influential beyond what their numbers would suggest in many areas: promotion of world peace, abolition of slavery, fair treatment of Native Americans, universal suffrage, prison reform, improvement in mental hospitals, etc.

Some of the Yearly Meetings publish a Book of Discipline or a book on Faith and Practice. These are not sets of strict rules. They are general guidelines for living and include Quaker history, excerpts from the journals of old and weighty Friends and poetry. Also included are monthly queries, which the individual member and meetings can use to explore what they are doing to make a positive impact on the world. The New York Yearly Meeting's Faith & Practice document can be seen at: http://www.nyym.org/index.php?q=faith_and_practice

Women obtained equal status to men throughout most of the Quaker movement early in its history - centuries earlier than in most other denominations.

In England and some areas of the US, meetings are held in silence. Attendees speak when moved to do so. Elsewhere in North America, services have programmed orders of worship, usually led by a pastor.

They usually arrange the congregation in a square or circle, so that each person is aware of everyone else, yet no one person appears raised above another in status.

Business meetings seek to reach a consensus; no voting is used.

Throughout their history, Quakers have refused to take oaths. Because they believe in the truth at all times, oaths are not necessary. Taking an oath implies that there are two types of truthfulness: one for ordinary life and another for special occasions.


Handout 2Print Handout 2

Core Democratic Values

Fundamental Beliefs



The Pursuit of Happiness

The Common Good





Popular Sovereignty

Constitutional Principles

The Rule of Law

Separation of Powers

Representative Government

Checks and Balances

Individual Rights

Freedom of Religion


Civilian Control of the Military


Philanthropy Framework:


Alison, Teacher Sherwood, MI10/24/2007 8:18:02 AM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) the point of view from another religious group. Many of the students didn't know about the "Society of Friends." It correlated well with the democratic values, which we have been studying.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:How Did We Help? Summary


Native Americans and Giving
Mayflower Compact Started It (The)
"Society of Friends" and Society (The )
Benjamin Franklin and Life

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