How Philanthropy Helped the World Post-WWII
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities and the problem of factions.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.
    3. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.

On September 2, 1945 Japan surrendered, ending a global six-year war that saw the highest number of casualties in history. Much of the world was in shambles and many people were in the direst of circumstances. In the interest of global cooperation and recovery, the U.S. government performed sweeping acts of philanthropy that improved the conditions of people devastated or homeless from war. In this lesson we learn of the Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, Berlin Airlift, and the Displaced Persons Act. These historical events illustrate the broader point that there are benefits, both ethically and practically, in helping other people.

PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learners will be able to...

  • summarize the purpose for each of four historical acts of government philanthropy after WWII.
  • describe the pros and cons of the four acts.
  • reflect on the qualities of people and organizations that help people. What are the costs and the benefits to the giver?
  • student copies of the Four Post-WWII Acts handout
  • student copies of the Post-WWII Acts Worksheet
  • PowerPoint lecture
  • highlighter
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Display pictures of post-WWII Europe and post September 11, 2001 Manhattan and the Pentagon. You may also show the desserted streets of the COVID-19 quarantine. 

    Tell the students to envision themselves at the end of the Second World War in another nation. Have them envision that many of their loved ones are dead or unaccounted for. Have them envision that their school and the stores they used to shop in are destroyed. Pose the question to them: “In this situation, what would you need to get your life back to normal?” Brainstorm and compile the student’s answers on the board. Once the list is adequate, explain that this is what people faced in the Autumn of 1945. People who lost everything and faced continued fear from their oppressor received help in a form of philanthropy in four U.S. acts. 

  2. Define philanthropy as giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good. Discuss philanthropy and examples from individuals, nonprofit organizations, and the government -- how does each take action for the good of others? 

    Tell them after WWII, the U.S. government took extensive action through four major acts to help rebuild. This is government philanthropy. Some people say that the U.S. was not just being philanthropic because it also benefitted the U.S. Discuss whether it is still philanthropy. If I buy someone lunch and it makes me feel good to help, does that mean it isn't generous?   

  3. Use the jigsaw method to help students quickly become familiar with these four post-WWII acts. Students work in groups of four. Within the group, they count off from 1 to 4 to indicate which of the four acts they will read about, become experts in, and teach to the other three members of their group. Their number corresponds to the number on the handout Four Post-WWII Acts.

  4. Give each student the Four Post-WWII Acts handout, the graphic organizer, and a highlighter. Reading the textbook can be substituted for the reading handout. For ten minutes, they read their section of the handout, highlighting what the action did and how it helped people. They each fill in their portion of the graphic organizer. This should be a silent ten minutes.

  5. After ten minutes, students report on their reading in order from 1-4. Emphasize that you want them using their voices to explain and not just passing around a worksheet to copy. The students fill in details on the graphic organizer for all four acts. 

  6. Students return to their regular seats, and the teacher reviews these four post-WWII recovery acts, using the PowerPoint handout. Students fill in any missing or correct any incorrect information on their graphic organizers. 

  7. Students write on the back of their graphic organizer their reflections on these two questions:

    1. Compare the time after World War II with the time of the Covid-19 Pandemic. For each historical event, who were the people in need? What were the risks involved? Who were the individuals who helped others? You may write a paragraph or make a comparative chart.
    2. Despite time period or type of crisis, there are individuals and organizations who risk themselves to help others. What are the qualities of those people? What traits do you have that come out in a crisis? 
  8. Think of a recent or potential crisis that may affect you or people or nature you care about. What action (big or small) can you take?  What supplies or help do you need? Describe the situation and outline a plan of action. 


Students turn in their assignments for a grade.