K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Students define philanthropy and discuss the joy of giving, as well as various ways to give through nonprofits in the community. They learn how GivingTuesday uses the power of social media and combining efforts with others to make a big difference. Students explore their giving passion and use communication as an instrument of change.

Photo Credit: Toys for Tots by H. Michael Miley is licensed under CC by 4.0

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne class period, plus time for a project

The learners will: 

  • define philanthropy as giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good. 
  • explain the mission of #GivingTuesday as a global effort to focus on generosity and giving during the November and December holidays. 
  • identify different ways to give, including volunteering, donating, advocating, and collecting new information about an issue. 
  • research and support the work of local businesses that address issues they care about.
  • participate in #GivingTuesday through social media using #GivingTuesday #LTGChat #Teach1.
  • copy of the PowerPoint slide show to facilitate this lesson (below)
  • computers, phones and letter-writing supplies for the service project
Teacher Preparation 

Use the attached PowerPoint to guide classroom discussion.

Preview the #GivingTuesday website [] to explore the concept and creative tools for advocating for issues. 


philanthropy: giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good

common good: working together with other members for the greater benefit of all; promotes the welfare of the community

advocacy: the act or process of writing or speaking in favor of, or supporting, a cause

Home Connection 

The students tell their families about GivingTuesday and discuss what issues they care about. 


Follow the project with a brief reflection.

  1. How do you feel when you tell others about an issue you care about?
  2. What are some ways you can make a difference with your time and talent?
  3. Share the reflections with Learning to Give and a national audience. 


  1. Adapt this one-period lesson plan for any grade level and follow it with a simple and powerful service project for Giving Tuesday. The reflection brings learning and service impact together. 

  2. Anticipatory Set: (5 minutes) Write this quote on board: “No one has ever become poor from giving.”- Anne Frank


    • What does it mean "to give"? How do you feel when you give to help others or the community? Give an example.
    • In what ways can giving make you "richer"?
  3. Part One: (10 minutes) Discuss the concept of giving and what it means to give.

    Watch this 3-minute video about Advocacy and Action. This and other videos are on the Learning to Give YouTube channel. 

    Share a personal example or story when you gave to someone with no expectation of "payment," and why (e.g., shoveled an elderly neighbor's driveway). Explain how the giving made you feel.

    Define philanthropy as giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good. Define and discuss "common good."

  4. Ask the students to share stories of giving time, talent, or treasure. You may have them "think, pair, share" before telling the whole class their stories. Reflect how they felt about giving and how their stories show diverse ways to give and diverse needs they address

  5. Part Two: (20 minutes) What issues do we care about and what people and organizations address those issues?

    Brainstorm with the students examples of people and organizations that give money or take voluntary action to address issues. The list may include philanthropists of all types in your community. Identify what issues these organizations (United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Save the Children) focus on (hunger, literacy, intergenerational relationships, etc.). 

    Tell the students that every philanthropist started with an idea or passion that touched their heart and mind. A philanthropist may give money to find cures for a disease when someone in their family experiences it. A philanthropist may advocate for change because they know someone who was treated unfairly. People who love to read may support efforts to make sure all children have access to books. 

    Optional: Show this 2 1/2 minute video about Connecting Skills and Interests to Community Needs

  6. Use the Blue Sky Envisioning Activity to identify what issues students care about and to envision a perfect world where an issue is repaired. Inspire the students to narrow their focus to one issue they care about.

    As the final phase of the activity, you may decide to have the whole class focus on the same issue, or individuals or small groups may choose their own for the service project.

  7. Part Three: Introduce #GivingTuesday and explore the website of the global initiative. 

    The goal of #GivingTuesday is to encourage all people to give and advocate for an issue they care about. Look at the statistics that show the impact this one day makes globally. #GivingTuesday is the second biggest giving day of the year and it is fueled by social media and spreading awareness of what is needed. Tell the students the class is going to participate in #GivingTuesday, along with people all over the world. 

  8. Service Project

    This service project may be started in class and completed in subsequent days, either with the class or in small groups, friends, and family.

    Project Overview: Use the tools of #GivingTuesday to make a difference for the issues students identified. 

  9. Procedure:

    1. Make a plan for being part of the global giving movement on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving either with the whole class focused on one issue, or individuals supporting the issues they identified.
    2. Take a survey of what social media students use and how it could be used to advocate for an issue. Ask them what difference they can make if they tell others in their network to support their issue.  
    3. Students research facts and nonprofits related to their issue. (e.g., hunger facts that tell about the need for help). 
    4. Students contact local nonprofits and ask what is needed to address the need.
    5. Brainstorm what to ask others to do in their #GivingTuesday communications. For example, they can tell others about GivingTuesday, to donate to local nonprofit, or about a collection drive or event. 
    6. They write several social media posts (drafts) to tell others in their network what they have learned and persuade them to give time, talent or treasure for the cause. Keep in mind that posts may be shared with others outside their network. They should provide clear instructions and give no personal information.
    7. Use peer editing to make their writing stronger, more accurate, and more persuasive. Give students tips about giving "I likes" and "I wonders" to help one another. 
    8. Starting weeks before #GivingTuesday, students start sharing their pre-written posts. They can follow and promote their classmate's messages. 
    9. Have students keep track of what they post, how often, and how people respond (# of retweets). 
    10. On a daily basis, reflect on what they observe and other ways to get the word out about their cause. 



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 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.
      3. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name and recognize the civil society sector as a separate part of the community.
      2. Benchmark HS.1 Recognize and use a variety of terms related to the civil society sector appropriately, and identify the characteristics the terms describe.
      3. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss examples of civil society organizations from a list of categories of organizations.
      4. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      3. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      3. Benchmark HS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.