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

United Nations (The)
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students learn about the peace-focused philanthropic efforts toward resolution between nations of the world after World War II.


Two Fifty Minute Class Periods


The learners will:
  • discover the reasons why an international organization was needed as an outcome of WWII.
  • identify the philanthropic activities of the United Nations.
  • identify and explain NGO’s and their role in world affairs.
  • demonstrate ability to research, organize and present findings through inquiry and discovery.

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 may participate in a service project to inform others about an international children’s health, nutrition, educational program or child labor issue.


  • Appropriate social studies and/or geography text
  • Attachment One: United Nations Overview
  • Computer access for learning about NGOs
  • Attachment Two: United Nations Information Worksheet
  • Attachment Three: NGOs
Handout 1
United Nations Overview
Handout 2
United Nations Information Worksheet
Handout 3

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Write these facts about WW II on the board, have the students read them and respond to the following question.

  1. Sixty million people died in World War II.
  2. One out of ten Soviet citizens died. (7. 5 Million overall in the Soviet Union).
  3. 2,500 U.S. citizens were killed at Pearl Harbor, and 3.5 Million over all.
  4. 250,000 people were killed by the Atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

With all this suffering, the people of the world wanted to avoid another conflict. What do you think would be the best way to help the nations of the world keep the peace?

Write at least four of the student responses on the board and have the class evaluate each. Lead the students into a discussion of the mission of the United Nations.

Note: If this is an American or World History class, review about the League of Nations and its successes and failures. Introduce the United Nations as the organization formed at the close of World War II to improve the condition of developing countries and to maintain world peace. The United Nations acts as an international philanthropist as the Marshall Plan was a U.S. government philanthropy program.

  • Show an image of the United Nations logo and discuss the symbolism of its color and components. 
  • Give each student a copy of Attachment One: United Nations Overview. Have the students read the information as well as textbook sections or Internet articles appropriate to the content covered.
  • Pass out the attached question sheet so that students can go through the site and/or the printed material and complete before the next class session. 

    Day Two
    Anticipatory Set:

    Write the following definitions on the board and have students copy them.
    1. Common Good – Citizens should work together for the good of all. The government should make laws that are good for everyone
    2. Philanthropy – Active effort to promote human welfare.
    3. Non-governmental organization (NGO)—term used by Non American countries to define the nonprofit sector.
    4. Nonprofit sector – any not for profit or tax exempt organizations collectively that are specifically not associated with any government agency or commercial enterprise.
  • Discuss with students why philanthropy helps the common good and how commissions and agencies of the United Nations act as international philanthropists (UNICEF, Human Rights Commission).
  • Tell the students that today they will explore some examples of international philanthropy foundations that help people of the world because of the UN work. The students work in groups to write a summary of one agency's work to address a UN treaty issue. Each group of students picks one of the twenty-five treaties that the UN is currently endorsing. Attachment Three gives suggestions for NGOs to research. 
  • Others to explore include Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, giving millions of dollars to make certain the world’s children are vaccinated, the International Red Cross, the Crescent Red Cross, Grantmakers Without Borders, and the European Foundation Center.
  • End the class with each group reading their summary. The group summary should be two minutes in length and include:
    • a definition of philanthropy activities undertaken by the NGO.
    • a clear statement of the issue.
    • a clear statement of the UN position and activities.


  • Oral or written responses to Attachment Two: United Nations Information Worksheet

  • Assess written summaries

  • Assess oral presentations

  • Instructor-constructed test on content

Bibliographical References:

  • www.un.org/cyberschoolbus

  • http://www.un.org/

  • http://www.unesco.org/

  • United Nations Environment Programme - UNEP -http://www.unep.org/

  • UNDP - United Nations Development Programme UNDP http://www.undp.org/
    UNICEF – The United Nations Children’s Fund works for children’s rights, their survival, development and protection, guided by the Convention on the Rights ...

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - ... (OHCHR) protects and promotes human rights for all. United Nations...

Lesson Developed By:

James Feldman
Lakeshore Public Schools
Kennedy Middle School
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082


Handout 1Print Handout 1

United Nations Overview

The name “United Nations,” coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the “Declaration by United Nations,” January 1, 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.

States first established international organizations to cooperate on specific matters. The International Telecommunication Union was founded in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, and the Universal Postal Union was established in 1874. Both are now the United Nations’ specialized agencies.

In 1899, the International Peace Conference was held in The Hague to elaborate instruments for settling crises peacefully, preventing wars and codifying rules of warfare. It adopted the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes and established the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which began work in 1902.

The forerunner of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the first World War, and established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote international cooperation and to achieve peace and security.” The International Labour Organization was also created under the Treaty of Versailles as an affiliated agency of the League. The League of Nations ceased its activities after failing to prevent the Second World War.

In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. Those delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks, United States in August-October 1944. The representatives of the 50 countries signed the Charter on 26 June 1945. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 Member States.

The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by a majority of other signatories. United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year.

Extracted from: Basic Facts About the United Nations 2000, Sales No. E.00.I.21.

Organization of the United Nations

The primary decision-making organization representing all 189-member nations is called the General Assembly. The Security Council discusses and votes on major security issues facing the United Nations. It is charged with keeping world peace and may vote to take action against a member nation or non-member nation in order to keep peace and protect lives at risk. One of the most recent actions sought protection of the Kurdish population in northern Iraq. There are five permanent members: the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China. All five permanent members of the Security Council must agree before any action is approved, such as sending inspections teams into Iraq. The other members of the Security Council are elected to serve for two years.

There are several main arteries such as the Economic and Social Council which established regional committees for Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific and western Asia. There is the Trusteeship Council, Office of the Secretary General called the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice. Permanent commissions and committees, serving to better the lives of people, work worldwide as international philanthropic organizations. You may be familiar with UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, for their fundraising activities on October 31 of each year. UNICEF helps provide for child development programs, education and training to youth worldwide.

In addition to UNICEF, some of the most important commissions of the United Nations are:

  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees which works to protect refugees in foreign countries who may have fled their native country because of drought, famine, ethnic intolerance and war. This commission has fought the ravages of African famine, sought to bring food and shelter to those fleeing war and victims of natural disasters.

  • Commission on Human Rights wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to address issues of genocide, ethnic discrimination and intimidation and gender bias. Successes have been seen recently in Haiti, El Salvador, Syria and Indonesia.

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was founded in 1947 in the firm belief that through education, development of peaceful uses of science and technology and cultural cooperation, nations could establish peace.

There are many more important agencies of the United Nations and through your study and research you will certainly find that since its founding, the United Nations has helped foster peace and economic development throughout the world.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

United Nations Information Worksheet

The United Nations logo shows
the world held in the
“ olive branches of peace”.

  1. What are the aims of the UN?

  2. What are the principles of the UN?

  3. Why was the League of Nations created?

  4. What are the two reasons that the League of Nations failed?

  5. What are the nations on the Security Council and why were they chosen as members?

  6. What summit met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 and what was the result of that summit?

  7. What are NGO’s and how are specific concerns of an NGO addressed by the UN?

Short constructed response: minimum of four paragraphs. Paragraph one should be your introduction, paragraphs two and three support your two issues and paragraph four will be your conclusion.

Give supportive data on two issues the UN should address.

Handout 3Print Handout 3


(Note to Teacher: the following is only a small number of NGOs. Placement on the list should not be taken as an endorsement and you may add or delete as applicable to the service component.)

Issue NGO web address
Racial discrimination World Conference Against Racism http://www.civilrights.org/humanrights/wcar/ 
Genocide Amnesty International www.amnesty.org
Human rights Interaction www.interaction.org
Global environment Greenpeace www.greenpeace.org
Women’s rights Association for Women’s Rights in Development www.awid.org
Children’s rights One thousand children www.one thousand children.org
Global warming Global Warming Inter Center www.globalwarming.net
Land Mines De-mining systems - UK www.deminingsystems.co.uk/
Refugees Relief International www.ri.org
International. Crime Mobilization for global Justice www.globalizethis.org/
Weapons reduction Center of International Policy http://www.ciponline.org/
Chemical weapons Chemical and Biological Nonproliferation Project www.stimson.org/cwc/
Biodiversity Institute of World Affairs www.iwa.org
Antarctica Raytheon Polar Services www.polar.org/
Space International Association for Science and Technology Development http://www.iasted.com/

Philanthropy Framework:


Sakina, Teacher – Mumbai, India7/8/2007 3:16:21 AM

The lesson is very well planned.

pj, Administrator – mandaue city, Philippines9/17/2010 11:57:43 PM

Very informative!

SHUBHRA, Teacher – Noida, India10/29/2013 10:53:55 AM

Excellent planning, great insight into learning capacity of students.

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