A Plethora of Philanthropy

6, 7, 8

The learners will be introduced to philanthropy and be able to generate examples of various ways the community is impacted, either by individuals, families or community organizations.

PrintOne 50 Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define "community" and give examples.
  • define "philanthropy" and recognize examples as the giving of time, talent or treasure.
  • explain the importance in a democratic republic of responsible participation by citizens in voluntary civil associations or non-governmental organizations that comprise civil society.
  • list and describe philanthropic vocabulary.
  • analyze how community groups and familiesprovide philanthropy.


  • Learner Survey on Philanthropy 
  • Master Vocabulary Sheet
  • Philanthropy at Home 
Teacher Preparation 

Prior to the start of this unit, schedule a guest speaker from the community who deals in philanthropic activities (United Way, Red Cross). If a guest speaker is not available, a suitable video dealing with philanthropic issues could be used. See Learning to Give's YouTube channel 

Home Connection 

The learners will be given a handout -Philanthropy at Home -that encourages families to talk about philanthropic acts that have taken place/are taking place in the home, neighborhood, and/or community. The learners are required to make a list of these philanthropic acts and their impacts. Parents are asked to sign the Philanthropy at Home sheet and the learnersrequired toreturn it to school.


For additional vocabulary and related Units and Lesson see also www.learningtogive.org


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell the class that today, a very special guest will be speaking to them, but before he/she does, it is important that they understand a few things. Start by asking them if they have ever heard of the term "philanthropy." Tell them they are going to participate in a game to find out the correct definition of philanthropy. "We are going to play charades today." The teacher (or a learner) will act out the parts of the definition and the rest of the class will need to guess the word associated with the three words: time, talent, and treasure.

  2. Put the term "community" on the board and ask learners to define the term and give multiple examples of what it includes. Try to elicit a broad definition of the term that includes more than the name of the local area. (See Master Vocabulary Sheet for all definitions) .

  3. Consider showing this clip from Salvatore Alaimo's film 'What is Philanthropy' to further discussion and understanding. 

  4. Before the guest speaker arrives, have the leaners complete Student Survey on Philanthropy (handout) to assess prior knowledge on philanthropy. Hold their responses for the next lesson.

  5. Instruct the learners to create a list of unfamiliar vocabulary terms related to philanthropy as they listen to the guest speaker.

  6. Welcome and introduce the guest speaker who will tell the learners what he or she does, what is the purpose of their organization's work, and how this organization's work affects the local community.

  7. After the speaker has finished, have the learners talk about how their perception of philanthropy has changed. Have them identify disparities between American ideals and realities and analyze how the organization represented by the guest speaker, works to solve those disparities. Continue to discuss the importance, in a democratic republic, of responsible participation by citizens in voluntary civil associations or non-governmental organizations that comprise a civil society.

  8. Using the lists of vocabulary words developed by the learners, define those words. (NOTE: As a reference, amaster vocabulary list is included as Master Vocabulary Sheet -Handout Two)

  9. After the vocabulary words are clarified, discuss what new information was introduced by the speaker and have the learners start to think about philanthropy within their own homes and how it impacts their families.

  10. At the end of the discussion, tell the learners that they will be asked to discuss the idea of philanthropy with their parents and make a list of philanthropic acts that took place/are taking place in their homes, neighborhoods, and/or community and the impact that they have had/are continuing to have. in Distribute learner copies of Philanthropy at Home (Handout Three).


Learner involvement in class discussions. Completion and sharing of Philanthropy at Home (Handout Three)

Cross Curriculum 

None for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Describe how different needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society, and family.
      2. Benchmark MS.6 Identify significant contributions to society that come from the civil society sector.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Recognize terms that describe the civil society sector.
    4. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss the function of family traditions and role modeling in teaching about sharing and giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.