Dear Philanthropist

9, 10, 11, 12

From stories and examples, participants identify attributes, motivation, and impact of philanthropists.

PrintOne Fifty-Minute Session
  • Identify attributes and impact of philanthropists from history and present day.
  • Write a formal letter using traditional letter format. 

copies of handouts below


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell a story about a local philanthropist, including what they did and the path they took. Examples:

    • The family of a film maker created an ongoing university scholarship to fund student internships where they would learn to make films highlighting a nonprofit's work. This was the work and passion of the film maker before he died of cancer. 
    • A doctor donates funds to build a new medical building to serve patients with a specific illness. 
    • A school crossing guard shows up in all weather to make sure students are safe. 
  2. Define "philanthropist" as someone who gives time, talent, or treasure (money) for the common good. Discuss stories and examples of philanthropists and distinguish a philanthropist from a celebrity (however, a celebrity may be a philanthropist).  

  3. Distribute the List of Philanthropists from History (handout) and assign philanthropists from the list to participants. They look up the person's philanthropy and describe it in one sentence. They write it on a full sheet of paper with a date at the top (of their philanthropy). For example: 1911: Madame C.J. Walker donated $1,000 to YMCA and other efforts to promote the success of African Americans.

  4. In turn, participants read their sentence and place it in timeline order across the floor or other surface. You don't need to do this in order. They can place their paper in order before, after, and between the other papers already placed. 

  5. Participants choose a philanthropist about whom they would like to learn more. They will write a letter to that person. This is to be a formal letter, including proper spelling, grammar, and form. Use Letter Requirements (handout). Discuss standards and requirements, and show Sample Letter (handout). 

Philanthropy Framework

  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.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.