PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy as giving or sharing time, talent or treasure for the common good.
  • identify acts of philanthropy.
  • recognize the value of community capital in his/her classroom and community.
  • design a poster illustrating the definition of philanthropy.
  • A copy of the book A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams (see Bibliographical References)
  • A copy of the video “Philanthropy Is . . .” (see Bibliographical References)
  • Philanthropy Homework (Attachment One)
  • White drawing paper
  • Pencils, crayons and rulers
  • Journals
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students talk to their families about community groups that help people. Send home Attachment One: Philanthropy Homework. Students come to school with a list of organizations or local philanthropists to begin the discussion in Lesson Two: Solid Foundation.



  1. Anticipatory Set: Show the video “Philanthropy Is . . .” This five-minute video introduces the concept of philanthropy by asking several people (adults and students) to define it. Some of the answers are humorous. After the video, discuss the definition of philanthropy and have the students put it in writing in their journals.

  2. Tell the students that you are going to read a book to them and you want them to look for examples of philanthropy in the story. When you are done reading, you will ask them to identify the examples and classify them as giving time, giving talent or giving treasure. Read A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams.

  3. Write the headings “Time,” “Talent” and “Treasure” on the chalkboard. After reading the story, ask the students to identify the philanthropic acts and tell you under which category each example belongs. When they have named all the examples from the book, have them continue by naming examples of philanthropy they have seen in the news, in their neighborhoods or in the school. Continue to write their examples in the three categories until you have a significant list. Encourage broader thinking by suggesting examples you have seen.

  4. While referring to the brainstormed list, ask the students to think about how the persons performing these philanthropic acts feel. Ask students to think about why they do it, what they have to give up, and what positive effects it has for them. First, lead the students to realize that people have personal reasons for being philanthropic. Secondly, discuss what time or resources they have to give up—opportunity costs. Thirdly, lead students to recognize that the givers are building up community capital.

  5. Define community capital as the positive feelings that are generated toward someone or the community when people perform acts of philanthropy. These positive feelings are banked like capital, or savings in a bank, often to be returned (or reciprocated) later, passed on to another person in need or called on in times of conflict or crisis. In other words, when people give, it inspires others to give.

  6. Ask students to reflect on the concepts of the lesson by writing in their journals. Ask them to recall something they have done for someone else and describe how they felt about it. They may write why they did it or what positive effect it had for them.

  7. Day Two

  8. Review the lists from Day One of examples of philanthropic acts. Ask the students to recall why people give.

  9. Working alone or in pairs, students design and create posters that illustrate the definition of philanthropy. The posters should include a definition, an illustration of a philanthropic act and at least three sentences that describe the effects of the philanthropic act. The effects may be for the giver or receiver or both.

  10. Display the posters somewhere in the school to raise awareness in the school community about the importance of philanthropy.


Read student journal entries to determine whether they understand the definition of philanthropy and the positive effects for both the giver and receiver.

Use the following rubric to assess the student posters:

Poster Requirements Point Value Includes a definition of philanthropy in a complete sentence in neat handwriting and bold letters. 25 points

Includes an illustration of a philanthropic act using at least three colors. 25 points

Includes at least three sentences that describe the effects of the philanthropic act. 30 points

The poster is neat and fills the page attractively. 20 points

Total points out of 100:

Cross Curriculum 

The students design and display a poster illustrating the definition of philanthropy.

Read about the service-learning project called Teaching Dolls by 4th grade students from Wesley Chapel Elementary School in North Carolina who were taught using this "Phil"-ing Good lesson to guide student learning and action.

“I feel it is important for our students to recognize how fortunate they are and that they can be helpful to others,” said Ms. Matheson, a Media Coordinator at Wesley Chapel Elementary School in North Carolina. “Since they love to sew, I thought they should share their talents with others.” 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
    3. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.13 Offer examples of community/social capital in school.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify why people practice philanthropy related to their own self-interest.