Nonprofits and Me

9, 10, 11, 12

In this lesson learners will become familiar with nonprofits. Learners will prepare for a volunteer experience in the nonprofit sector.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Forty-Minute Periods

The learner will:

  • describe and give examples of types of business organizations, including for profit and not for profit.
  • identify functions of the nonprofit sector.
  • analyze the impact of non-profits on the community.
  • compare and contrast foundations and cooperatives.
  • design a plan of action to become a volunteer.
  • Sandwich Makings (Attachment One), cut into individual pieces
  • Construction paper, tape or sticky tack
  • Old magazines
  • Extension: "Thank You" cards, envelopes and stamps
  • Extension: Student Driven Cooperative (Attachment Two)
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students will collaborate with an adult to identify the functions and presence of nonprofit organizations.

  • Galdone, Paul. The Little Red Hen. Clarion Books. Reprint edition, 1985. ISBN: 0899193498
  • Global Youth Action Network. 
    The Global Youth Action Network is a not-for-profit organization that acts as an incubator of global partnerships among youth organizations. Its mission is to facilitate youth participation and intergenerational partnership in global decision-making; to support collaboration among diverse youth organizations; and to provide tools, resources and recognition for positive youth action.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Put the term "cooperation" on the chalkboard and ask for examples of the term. Define it.

  2. Day One: Have a volunteer read aloud The Little Red Hen. Let the learners discuss how the story would have differed if everyone had worked toward the goal for the common good.

    • Explain that there are various types of business organizations in this economy. There is an individual proprietorship with one owner. There is a partnership where two or more owners share responsibility for the business. There is a corporation which sells shares of stock in the business to stockholders who become part owners of the business. These are examples of for profit businesses. These businesses seek a profit for their owners.
    • Another type of business is a nonprofit business. Ask the learners to determine its characteristics (an organization whose income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors or any other persons with an interest in the company). Often, nonprofits provide services that the for-profit and government sectors don’t want to or are unable to provide, often at a lower cost than a "for profit business" would charge. Two examples of a nonprofit business are:
  3. cooperative – an organization that exists to provide services to its members. Examples of cooperatives are credit unions, food coops, housing coops, agricultural coops, etc. Members are charged lower prices than might otherwise be charged by a for profit business.

    foundation – an organization created from donated funds from which the income is distributed as grants for not-for-profit organizations. Foundation awards are usually given as grants, which do not have to be repaid.

    Teacher Note: use examples of local cooperatives and foundations to enhance student understanding.

  4. Using the Internet or other resources, list and identify non-profit organizations present in the county, state and nation. A search by zip code on will provide a list of all nonprofits with assets of more than $25,000 in that zip code area.

    • Distribute one piece each of Sandwich Makings (Attachment One) to nineteen learners. Explain to the learners that they each own their own piece of the sandwich and their aim is to put together one sandwich. They may not combine the pieces. Can this be done? (No.)
    • Explain that if they were all members of a cooperative, the pieces would belong to everyone. In that case they would not have to combine what does not belong to them because all the pieces already belong to them. As members of a cooperative, let the learners now build their sandwich. Discuss how working as a cooperative improved the situation.
    • Day Two: Review the definition of non-profit organizations, give several examples from the local community, and review how they contribute to the "common good." On the chalkboard, record the functions of foundations (grants, scholarships, services and programs).
    • Compare and contrast the roles of cooperatives and foundations, using the following questions:
  5. What is the primary focus?

    Who do they serve?

    Where are the funds generated?

    Where are funds allocated?

  6. Review the idea of youth volunteerism by asking why youth would want to volunteer their scarce resources. Include ideas of internal and external motivation.

    • Relate youth volunteerism to the non-profit sector. What opportunities are available for youth to volunteer in this sector?
    • Have students develop a plan of action on how they could become volunteers in a local cooperative or foundation or other nonprofit organization. Meet with each student individually and discuss whether or not the plan is feasible and if they can and will complete the plan of action. The plan should contain an awareness of the need(s) met by volunteering, and an opportunity for the student to reflect on the results of the volunteerism for the organization and themselves.
    • Day Three: Begin by distributing a sheet of paper and old magazines. Have the learners construct a visual presentation (poster or model) depicting their plan of action for becoming a volunteer in a local cooperative, foundation or other nonprofit organization.
    • Hang posters and models throughout the room. Allow time for the learners to present their ideas to the class or have the class do a classroom "walk about" to view the plans.
    • Discuss what career opportunities are apparent based on the learning from this lesson. Have the learners ever considered nonprofits as possibilities for a career in service to the community?

Learning will be assessed by learner discussions, Internet research, comparison and contrast discussion, and the visual presentation of the learner’s plan of action.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify the major operational characteristics of organizations in the civil society sector.
    3. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define the term foundation and describe the types of foundations.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 List examples of gifts, from a variety of foundations, that are of value to the community.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 02. Careers In The Nonprofit Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Explore requirements and motivations for a career in the civil society sector.