Profit and Nonprofit Organizations

K, 1, 2

Students learn that the community has four sectors: business, government, nonprofit and family. The students take a walk through a central business district in their local community and identify which sector funds or is represented by different buildings, business, parks and so on.

PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Period (plus a field trip to the community center)

The learner will:

  • define each of the sectors: business, government, nonprofit and family.
  • recognize that the nonprofit sector is an important part (and separate) part of the community.
  • give examples of needs met by government, business, philanthropy and family.
  • recognize that giving to the community is a responsibility and that giving takes many forms.
  • Field trip permission and parent helpers
  • Journals and pencils
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students can ask their parents whether they work in one of the four economic sectors (household, government, business, nonprofit). Also, parents may be able to name philanthropists related to their work.


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Show the students a picture of a community park. Ask the children if this is an important part of the community and discuss why. List the benefits of having a park in the community. Who uses it (ages of people who visit the park)? Do they have to pay each time they visit the park? Then ask the students to tell who pays for the park. (Most likely it is a common area paid for by their taxes—therefore it is funded by the government. Possibly it is a park that was donated to the city by a philanthropist.) Tell the students that the government is one of the four sectors of a community. The other three sectors are businesses, nonprofit and family. Each of these sectors plays an important role in making the community a pleasant place to live and work.

  2. Define each of the four sectors: business, government, nonprofit and family. Give examples in your community of each sector. Tell the students that sometimes businesses and government cannot support all the programs that a community needs. A community depends on the nonprofit sector for programs such as the library, the arts, social agencies and more.

    • Discuss why acting philanthropically is good for the community. How does the community benefit when someone donates money for a library, a park, a musical program, a museum, etc. Discuss why people give money to the community. Discuss whether it is the responsibility of each person or just rich people to give to their community. Lead students to recognize that giving to the community is their responsibility and that giving comes in many forms and amounts. For example: when families bring treats or volunteer in school they are giving to the school community. Ask the students to brainstorm other philanthropic acts.
    • Prepare the class for a walking field trip in the community. Talk about what they will see on their walk. Tell them that you want them to write and draw in their journals on the field trip. As they walk by buildings, businesses, parks, statues, organizations, police station, and so on, students will make predictions of whether a nonprofit organization contributed to it. (Be prepared with information about what you are going to see. You may wish to prepare in advance for some people from the organizations you visit to talk to the students about their funding.)
    • On the day of the field trip, students bring along a journal made by stapling white paper between sheets of construction paper. They will also need pencils. They should write names of places they observe and indicate whether they are nonprofit organizations or funded by philanthropists. Also, discuss and have the students identify the needs met by each place they observe. They should make other interesting notes and draw pictures of details in buildings, statues, flowers, etc.
    • Add to the community bulletin board started in Lesson One: What Is a Community? The students may cut out additional hands and write the names of more community businesses, organizations and attributes that contribute to the common good. The bulletin board will quickly fill up with examples of positive contributions to the common good. Talk about the impact of these acts on the community. Discuss what the community would look like without these.

The teacher will evaluate by observing their journal notes. The notes should include names of businesses, parks, etc. and whether they are part of the nonprofit sector.

Cross Curriculum 

None for this lesson:

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Define the terms "profit" and "not-for-profit."
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of needs met by government, business, civil society, and family.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Define each of the sectors: business, government, civil society, and family.
      3. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
    3. 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. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 02. Careers In The Nonprofit Sector
      1. Benchmark E.2 Describe a job in the civil-society and for-profit sectors.