Identifying the Nonprofit Sector

9, 10, 11, 12
Students will learn to identify nonprofit organizations within their communities.
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period
The learner will:
  • define the nonprofit sector as that part of the non-governmental sector of the economy that exists for the purpose of providing a service to the community rather than for the purpose of making a profit.
  • describe the reason for a nonprofit sector in a free market economy.
  • identify the nonprofit organizations within their own communities.
A list of the organizations within the community that provide services. A list can be compiled by using information from:
  • United Way,
  • the local Chamber of Commerce,
  • the yellow pages of a phone book under the "Social Services" heading, or,
  • use the Web site: and search for nonprofit organizations by your community's zip codes.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

  2. Pick a well-known nonprofit organization within the community (Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, etc.) and lead a class discussion by asking the following questions:
    • What does this organization do?
    • Why do they do it?
    • Why doesn't the government do it?
    • Do they make any money?
  3. Define nonprofit sector as "that part of the non-governmental sector of the economy that exists for the purpose of providing a service to the community rather than for the purpose of making a profit."
  4. Create a student-generated list of organizations in the community which are not making a profit and the services they provide. As each new organization is listed on the board or overhead, identify the organization as governmental or nongovernmental (often referred to in the press as NGO). If you are not sure about a particular organization, assign a student to find out for the next day.
  5. Put the students into groups of three to five. Provide the class with a list of community organizations. Ask each group to go through the list, marking those organizations that are governmental and those that are nongovernmental. After about 10-15 minutes, call on one group randomly to begin adding to the list on the board, continuing to label each organization as governmental or nongovernmental. Allow the first group to add two or three and then proceed to the next group until each group has added to the list and identified the group as governmental or nongovernmental.
  6. Explain that students will be learning about some of these nongovernmental, nonprofit organizations. Give them a list of the organizations that have agreed to participate in this project.
  7. Assignment: Students should each be prepared to identify at least two organizations that draw their attention for further study.
Each student should pair up with another nearby student. Student A should define nonprofit sector to his or her partner. Student B should correct any error, if necessary. Student B should then explain the two types of nonprofit organizations and give an example of each. Student A should correct any errors, if necessary. During this activity, the teacher should randomly walk through the room, listen to the conversations, and note if there is general understanding of the concept. If not, a quick correction can be given to the whole class. In a subsequent class session, the teacher should begin by naming several organizations and randomly calling on individual students to identify the organization as either governmental or private nonprofit.

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.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. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify the major operational characteristics of organizations in the civil society sector.