Philanthropists: Past, Present, Future
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define the term foundation and describe the types of foundations.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify how subgroups and families in society demonstrate giving, volunteering, and civic involvement.

Learners will identify examples of philanthropy in history and compare them to the giving of some modern day philanthropists and foundations. Students commit to a "random act of kindness" plan.

PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe the philanthropy of an antislavery activist.
  • identify and research modern philanthropy.
  • describe how foundations are a source of philanthropy for some persons.
  • define "random acts of kindness" and design and execute a kindness plan.
  • Laura Smith Haviland (handout)
  • Printout from the internet of top philanthropists
  • Philanthropic Acts of Kindness (handout)
Home Connection: 

Learners discuss with their parents the homework assignment, Philanthropic Acts of Kindness (handout), regarding a philanthropic random act of kindness.

  1. Anticipatory set:

    Review the definition of philanthropy as discussed in Lesson One: What Is a Philanthropist and Why Do We Care? and ask the learners to speculate on how a philanthropist looks and acts.

    Make sure the learners understand that although some philanthropists are/were wealthy and powerful, many philanthropists are regular people going about their days with no fanfare or notice.

  2. Using Laura Smith Haviland (handout), present the story of Laura Smith Haviland and discuss why she can be considered a philanthropist.

  3. Ask the learners to name persons who are currently identified as philanthropists in today’s society. Search the internet for a current list of top philanthropists and print a list for the students. Have the learners research three current philanthropists on the internet. Learners should describe each in a paragraph, indicating how they made their money and to whom it was donated (if possible), and turn in the completed assignment at the end of class.

  4. Ask if the learners found that some of the philanthropists put some of their money into a "foundation." Explain that a foundation is an organization created from an individual’s (or a corporation’s) funds and the income is given out as grants to not-for-profit organizations or, in some cases, to people. Bill and Melinda Gates, Justin Timberlake, Paul Newmanand, and Oprah Winfrey are examples of people who created foundations for giving grants (which do not have to be paid back) to others.

  5. Facilitate a classroom discussion about current philanthropy, including what has come to be known as "random acts of kindness." These acts are kindnesses done to others without their knowing who has done the good deed. Such acts make the world a better place on a personal level and reward the giver and the receiver. Have the learners brainstorm a list of random acts of kindness that would constitute philanthropy.

  6. Distribute Philanthropic Acts of Kindness and instruct learners to complete the handout as homework. Students should discuss the handout with their family members.

    Encourage learners to follow through on the random acts of kindness they selected. Set up a structure and reiforcement for them to share their progress and impact. 


Students will be evaluated on the completion of the research assignment on three current philanthropists and the reflection worksheet on the random act of kindness.