Investigating Voluntarism in the Nonprofit Sector

9, 10, 11, 12

Students will learn about the work of a specific nonprofit organization through a series of interviews and by doing volunteer work for the organization.

PrintThree Fifty-Minute Class Periods plus Experiential Component Time

The learner will:

  • describe the purpose and organizational structure of a specific nonprofit organization.
  • describe the job responsibilities of a specific individual working for a nonprofit organization.
  • describe the role of a member of a board of directors for a nonprofit organization.
  • identify the purpose of a specific activity performed by the nonprofit organization.
  • prepare and present an oral report that describes the function of a specific nonprofit organization in the community.
  • describe potential career opportunities within the organization, and analyze experiences with the nonprofit organization in written journal entries.
  • Prior to making this extended assignment, the teacher will need to assign students to a specific nonprofit organization, based on the students' indicated preferences.
  • Interview Form: Director of the Nonprofit Organization (see Handout One)
  • Job-shadowing Report Form (see Handout Two)
  • Interview with a Board Member (see Handout Three)
  • Documentation of Volunteer Hours (see Handout Four)
  • Rubric to Evaluate the Class Presentation (see Handout Five)
  • Student journals

Teacher Note: Prior to this lesson, the teacher will match the students with the nonprofit organizations in which they indicated an interest. If more than one student is assigned to the same organization, they should plan to do a joint interview with the Director and the Board Member, and each student should complete their own interview forms (Handouts One and Three). Students sharing an organization may work together to plan and present to the class.


  1. Anticipatory Set: To remind students of the previous lesson, name several nonprofit organizations and randomly call individual students to identify the organization as either governmental, nonprofit or private.

  2. Distribute a list with the names of the students and the nonprofit organizations they will be investigating. The list should include the names and telephone numbers of the directors of the organizations. Explain the specific project requirements and distribute the interview forms.

    • Project requirements:
    • Conduct an interview with the director of the organization (see Handout One, Interview Form: Director of the Nonprofit Organization).
    • Select one person in the organization who has a job you would like to learn about. Arrange with the director (during your interview) to meet that person. Arrange a minimum of two hours after school or on a weekend when you can "shadow" this person. After the job shadowing experience, fill out Job-shadowing Report Form (see Handout Two).
    • Interview one member of the voluntary board of directors. Complete Interview with a Board Member (see Handout Three).
    • Provide a minimum of five hours of voluntary service to the organization. This experiential component should be arranged through the director or employee being "shadowed." Complete Documentation of Volunteer Hours (see Handout Four).
  3. Complete an oral presentation to the class, which may be completed by a team of up to three students:

    • A minimum of 8-10 minutes
    • At least one visual aid (storyboard, videotape, etc.)
    • Presentation must cover:
      • Name and purpose of the organization
      • History of the organization in the community
      • Examples of accomplishments
      • Types of career opportunities
      • What was learned during the job shadowing
      • What was learned about the responsibilities of a board member
      • Description of the volunteer work completed

The worksheets the students complete after their interviews with the nonprofit organization director and board member, and the worksheet following the job shadowing, should be evaluated based upon the completeness and clarity of the answers. The oral presentation to the class should be evaluated using the Rubric to Evaluate the Class Presentation (see Handout Five).

Cross Curriculum 

Students will engage in structured interviews with at least two persons connected with the nonprofit organization, engage in two hours of job shadowing, and do five hours of volunteer work.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify the major operational characteristics of organizations in the civil society sector.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Describe the task and the student role.