A Motivated Cast

9, 10, 11, 12

In this lesson, students learn about the four sectors of the economy and learn that the civil society sector often steps in when business and government do not or cannot meet a felt need. Students observe the second half of the documentary The Gift of All and write about the issues in West Michigan and motivations of the philanthropists who made a major difference in the area. Students also write a personal mission statement.

PrintTwo 50-minute lessons

The learner will:

  • identify the four sectors of society and explain how the civil society sector steps in when other sectors cannot or will not meet a need.
  • define civil society and nonprofit company.
  • view, discuss, and respond through writing to the second half of the documentary The Gift of All: a Community of Givers.
  • identify seven motivations for giving.
  • teach one motivation for giving to the class using multiple intelligences.
  • write a personal mission statement.
  • Note: The Extension includes steps for carrying out a service project to address a community need.
  • DVD copy or streaming video of The Gift of All: a Community of Givers, produced by The S.O.U.L. of Philanthropy
  • Student copies of Handout One: Seven Motivations for Giving
  • Student copies of Handout Two: Personal Mission Statement

The Gift of All: a Community of Givers, produced by The S.O.U.L. of Philanthropy along with The Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Calvin College. Copyright © Grand Rapids Public Library, City of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2008, 2009. Streaming video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmaJoQicCEE 


  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students what they would do if they wanted a new pair of jeans. Some students may respond that they would go to the store to buy them. Write business on the board and say, "You would go to the business sector to meet this need." Other students may respond that they would ask their parents to buy the jeans. Write family on the board and say, "You would ask the family sector to meet this need." Then write government and say, "You would not expect the government sector to provide the jeans because that is not an appropriate use of tax money." Then write civil society on the board and say, "If your family does not have enough money to buy new jeans, you can also count on the civil society sector to meet this need. Organizations that collect donations of clothing will be happy to provide this service. The civil society sector steps in when the other three sectors cannot or will not address a need."

  2. Define civil society sector as nonprofit organizations and volunteers that address issues not met by families, government, or business. Brainstorm familiar nonprofits (Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, United Way, etc.) and community issues that are often addressed by nonprofits (disease research, food and clothing for poor families, etc.). Teacher Note: A nonprofit company is an organization whose income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors, or any other persons with an interest in the company.

  3. In the second half of the documentary The Gift of All, we will learn that downtown Grand Rapids had some issues that were not addressed by government or business. Ask the students to watch for information about the role of the civil society sector in West Michigan. What caused the civil society sector to step up and address a need to benefit the common good? What were its motivations?

  4. Write the following topics on the board and tell the students to write these topics on lined paper so they can take notes while viewing for the discussion after the film: issues or needs, the term "multiplier effect," what motivated people to give, benefits for the whole community, and new challenges for the next generation.

  5. Show the film from 19:00 to the end.

  6. Use the cafe method to discuss this section of the film. Assign the students to four groups and give each group a different color of marker (the marker stays with them as they rotate). Start each group at one sheet of chart paper with a topic at the top. (The four topics are 1. What were the issues/needs of downtown Grand Rapids in the 70s and 80s? 2. What factors helped bring downtown Grand Rapids back? 3. What motivated the civil society sector, and how did the leaders motivate and involve the whole community? 4. What are the new challenges?) The group discusses their topic and writes notes on the chart paper. After five minutes, give a signal for the groups to rotate to a different sheet of paper/different topic. At the new site, the students read the previous group's comments and add more comments using their assigned color marker. Repeat until each group has rotated back to their original sheet/discussion topic. There they reread all the comments and decide what the major points are and choose one person to report back to the rest of the class. Hang up the chart papers and review them as a whole class.

  7. Day Two

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students to think about how they approach homework. Do they get right to it and get it done, or do they prefer to save it for the last minute and use the deadline as a motivator? Ask them to raise their hands and say in a couple words what motivates them to get homework done and/or do a good job on homework. List some of their motivators on the board: good grades, want free time, financial reward, satisfaction of good job, values, etc.

  8. Remind the students that in the documentary yesterday, they saw the individuals in West Michigan motivated to give by several factors. Refer to the motivations chart from the previous lesson. Today they are going to look at some research about motivations for giving and analyze how the research relates to the individuals in West Michigan, to themselves, and to their community.

  9. Give each student a copy of Handout One: Seven Motivations for Giving. Have the students skim over the whole paper for two minutes. Then assign each motivation to a small group of three or four students. Tell the groups to read their motivation carefully and discuss what it means. They should come up with a summary, a physical motion, a rhyme, or a mnemonic to help others understand and remember their motivation. They should also come up with at least one example. Then they choose one person to represent the group. That person will teach the rest of the class about their motivation.

  10. Each group teaches the rest of the class about one motivation for giving. The other students listen and repeat the motivations as they learn them.

  11. While the students are looking at the list of seven motivations, ask them to recall comments from the documentary that support one of these seven motivations. (e.g., I heard the narrator say that people in West Michigan were motivated by their faith.)

  12. Ask the learners if the following statement is true: “Only very rich people are able to give." Discuss why this isn't true, leading them to state that everyone can give in some way and they have a lot to contribute. Ask the students to highlight two motivations on the handout (Handout One: Seven Motivations for Giving) that reflect their own personal feelings and motivations for giving. Have the students turn to a partner and tell that person which motivations they highlighted and why. Then ask for some volunteers to share what motivates them to give.

    • Tell the students you would like to find out what issues motivate them. Write the following issues in a column on the display board: building neighborhood, helping special needs students, educational issues, environment, illness, justice and fairness, and hunger and poverty. Ask the students if they want to add other general categories to that list. Give each student a self-stick note to put next to the issue they feel motivated to take action on. As students put their self-stick notes to the right of an issue, they create a graph showing interest areas. (See Extensions for using this chart as a jumping off point for a service-learning project.)

    • Knowing your motivations and interests is a good start toward writing a personal mission statement. A personal mission statement gives you focus and helps you make decisions. A mission statement states long-term goals, values, and beliefs. Successful companies use their mission statement to communicate their purpose and as a guide in decision making. Talk to the students about the value of a mission statement and give them the assignment of writing a personal mission statement. They can reflect on the people they admired in the documentary to help them evaluate the traits that are part of their own long-term plans. Give each student a copy of Handout Two: Personal Mission Statement. Give them a due date to turn in their completed mission statements.


Evaluate the personal mission statement on whether it expresses personal goals and values, shows thoughtfulness, and is written with appropriate style, grammar, and spelling. Do not evaluate the content of the purpose or goals. Encourage the students to keep a copy of their mission statements to refer to and adjust periodically.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Analyze the function and role of the civil society sector in economic systems using basic economic principles.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.
      2. 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 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Compare and contrast the basic terms and operations of the for-profit, government, family, and civil society sectors.
    4. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Compare and discuss the interaction of families, business, government, and the civil society sector in a democratic society.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Explain why the civil society sector rather than the government or private sectors address particular economic areas.
    3. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify and describe civil society sector organizations whose purpose is associated with issues relating to "human characteristics of place" nationally and internationally.
  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.2 Compare and contrast enlightened self-interest, egoism, and altruism as they relate to philanthropy and principles of democracy.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.