It's Up to Whom? You!

9, 10, 11, 12

Students define philanthropy and identify past and present volunteers in their communities and/or world. They explore the risks (opportunity costs) as well as the merits of volunteering for the common good and a more civil society.

PrintOne 50 minute class period

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy giving time, talent and treasure for the common good.
  • identify the opportunity cost of being philanthropic in two or more specific situations.
  • identify specific individuals in history and contemporary life who have made a difference.

It's Up to Us (The Giraffe Project) video - a 7 minute video found at

Teacher Preparation 

It is important to be sensitive to the possibility that someone in your class may have some personal experience with homelessness, hunger and poverty.


 Reflect in writing on the power of collaboration to get things done.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Prior to the beginning of class, write the following words on the display board, leaving a blank line where each vowel should be. Ph-l-nthr-py: g-v-ng t-m-, t-l-nt, -nd tr--s-r- f-r th- c-mm-n g--d.. Have the learners identify the television program that uses this format. Explain that for those who play Wheel of Fortune this is a typical version. For fun have the learners try to fill in the underlined spaces with the appropriate vowels so that the line reads: Philanthropy: giving time, talent, and treasure for the common good. Share with the class that early linguists extolled the vowel as the "heart" of one’s language and that the importance of the consonants paled in comparison. Ask the class, "If only the vowels were on display and you had to guess the consonants do you think it would have been easier or more difficult to come up with today's proper word and definition?"

  2. As the learners think about this, share that today they will view a video that will illustrate the impact one person or a small group can have on solving problems within society. If possible show the video It's Up to Us a 7 minute video created for the Giraffe Project (Note: If access to the video is unavailable, go on line and have the learners view the Giraffe Project web site at

  3. As the learners view this video or browse through this web site have them take notes on what they see and hear.

  4. Following the viewing of this video or web site open a whole class discussion centered on the impact that people or events have on so many of the issues in our communities and world. Have them share the ways that these people are "filling in the blanks" to help promote the common good.

  5. Have the learners recall as many historical examples as they can of individuals or small groups of individuals who have helped to make our community and world a better place today, and record these names on the display board. The Giraffe Heroes video shows many historic role models. Talk about the opporunity cost involved when taking action for the common good.

  6. Direct the learners to where briefing papers are posted that share the significance of individuals who have acted alone or led groups of people in campaigns to provide time, talent, and/or treasure for the common good.

  7. Have each student select one of the individuals listed at this site, read the paper highlighting his or her philanthropy, and construct a poster about the individual. The poster should answer the following questions with the goal of inspiring others to acts of philanthropy based on role models from history: Who is this person? What did he or she do to serve the common good? What sacrifices were involved (what opportunity cost might there be)? What social benefits do we see today as a result of this individual's efforts? How did this person "fill in the blanks" of a need? Tell the class that these posters will be displayed in the school under the title "These People Made a Difference. Will YOU?" to help serve as a motivational effort to encourage volunteer involvement.

  8. Conclude this class period by having the learners draw a comparison between the importance of both the vowels and consonants working together efficiently and effectively to help make sense of one’s reading, and the importance of both historical and present day individuals and groups working together to help resolve the many issues we read about and experience in our community and world today.


Learners will be assessed based on their participation in class discussions, the depth of understanding evident in their comments and questions, and their research and poster development and presentation.

Cross Curriculum 

Students come to a concensus on voluntary action to address an identified need related to poverty, hunger, and homelessness.

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. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Recognize and use a variety of terms related to the civil society sector appropriately, and identify the characteristics the terms describe.
      2. 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. 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.
      2. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.11 Analyze the impact of volunteerism on the economy of communities.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Explain how <i>opportunity cost</i> relates to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Discuss the results of private citizen voluntary action intended for the common good on public policy changes.
      2. Benchmark HS.14 Give examples of how citizens have used organizations in the civil society sector to hold people in power accountable for their actions on behalf of the public.
    4. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give an example of individual philanthropic action that influenced national or world history.
      2. Benchmark HS.7 Identify contemporary factors in society that can shape or affect how society views philanthropic giving.
    5. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.