Meeting Society's Needs through Philanthropy

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Definition of Philanthropy
Economic Sectors
Needs Assessment
Video Clip and Discussion Guide: There are some needs that businesses can't address because they can't make a profit. There are some needs that government can't address because government speaks for the majority. The philanthropy (or nonprofit) sector addresses needs and opportunities that fall through the cracks. This 13-minute video features examples of the three sectors work in partnership to meet society's needs. The discussions before and after the video help students understand the role of philanthropy.

Anticipatory Set

Ask the students what value parks have for the community. (Parks may include zoos and local pools.) Brainstorm a list of positive benefits. Discuss how businesses, government, and nonprofits support or maintain parks. Make a three-column chart from the discussion. Tell the students that the three sectors contribute to society in different ways. The video they are about to watch describes the unique role the nonprofit sector and philanthropy play in meeting society's needs. 



  1. What are some ways the nonprofit sector is good at meeting the needs of society? 
  2. What does it mean that philanthropy is nimble compared to government?
  3. What does Mike Farell mean by responsible captialism or responsible free enterprise? What is the danger when profit is the most important factor?
  4. In this video clip, there is a government film excerpt showing how communities "solve their own problems." What steps were involved in addressing an unmet need (healthy lunches)? 
  5. How is philanthropic action similar to entrepreneurism?
  6. Nonprofit organizations and businesses are private, and government is public. What do these terms mean?
  7. Why are nonprofits allowed to receive tax benefits? 

Follow-up Activity

Make a list of nonprofit organizations in your community (conduct online research). You may list a wide variety of organizations and the issue area they each address, or choose one issue area and list the organizations that address that one issue (ex., homelessness).