Philanthropy—One Person Can Make a Difference
  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.

Students define philanthropy, identify individuals who have made a difference and make a brief oral presentation summarizing the actions of a person whose actions made a difference.

PrintOne to Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy as private action for the common good.
  • identify the risks taken by individuals for the common good in two or more specific situations.
  • identify specific individuals in history and in contemporary life who have made a difference.

Inspirational videos that focus on the action of single individuals or small groups in making important changes or addressing serious problems, e.g.:

  • It's Up to Us (The Giraffe Project),
  • The Life of Varian Fry, (The American Promise, Video One, Act Three), or, other materials which focus on the actions of one individual in addressing community needs.
  • The Giraffe Project, P.O. Box 759, 197 Second Street, Langley WA 98260.
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Web site: https://www.giraffe.org/
  • Kaplan, R. (Producer). ASSIGNMENT: RESCUE, The Story of Varian Fry and the Emergency Rescue Committee. The Varian Fry Foundation Project/IRC, an educational project of the International Rescue Committee and by Richard Kaplan Productions, New York. VFFP/IC. 405 El Camino Real, #213, Menlo Park, CA 94025.
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Web site:http://www.almondseed.com/vfry/
  • Farmers Insurance Group (Producer). The American Promise. [videotape]. Available from Keeping the American Promise, P.O. Box 514989, Los Angeles, CA 90051-4989. E-mail:[email protected]
    Web site:http://www.americanpromise.com/
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students if they can identify the term philanthropy. Elicit examples.

  2. Introduce the idea of philanthropy (private action for the common good) by using materials that illustrate the impact one person or a small group can have on solving problems within society. It's Up to Us, a videotape created for the Giraffe Project, works well. (Visit the Web site https://www.giraffe.org/)

    • Have students take notes on:
      • who was involved,
      • what specific action was taken,
      • the risks or sacrifices involved,
      • the common good that was served.
      • After completing video or readings, lead a class discussion focusing on the questions listed above.
      • For homework: Divide class into thirds. Each student in the first group should identify and prepare a one minute oral report on one person in history who has made a difference. Persons in the second group should each identify one person in contemporary life who has or is making a difference and prepare a brief oral report. The last group should do the same assignment but each person should identify one person in their town or in the school who is making a difference. Each oral report should include:
        • identification of the person,
        • what he or she did,
        • what risks or sacrifices were involved,
        • how the action served the public good.
  3. Allow part of another day later in the week for the presentation of the reports.

  4. After the presentations, have students decide on which one person in each category had the most significant impact on an issue.


Oral reports should be evaluated. Credit should be given to students based on their understanding of the concept of private action for the public good as reflected in the four parts of the report. Full credit should only be given if the minimum time limit (one minute) is met.