Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

6, 7, 8

Learners will examine and demonstrate knowledge of philanthropy and its impact on society.  Learners will explore how they have they engaged in philanthropy and become aware of several new opportunities to perform philanthropic service. 


PrintThree Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • demonstrate knowledge of philanthropy and related keys terms.
  • identify, research, and present a report on a philanthropist .
  • determine some of the attributes and actions that promote philanthropy and philanthropic acts.
  • identify community needs and develop service plans to meet these needs.
  • Display Board
  • Philanthropy Terms (Handout One)
  • Past and Present Philanthropists; Home and Abroad (Handout Two)
  • Family Letter (Handout Three)
  • Writing Rubric (Handout Four)
Teacher Preparation 

To facilitate the efficiency of this unit, it would be important to contact and solicit, early on, a locally known philanthropist or someone who represents an organization involved in philanthropic acts, and/or a philanthropic foundation to come to speak to the class concerning these activities. Be sure to share with the speaker some of the general areas to cover during the talk as well as prepare them to be open to answering questions posed by the class.

Home Connection 

The learners will interview family members, other relatives, and neighbors what they know about philanthropy and philanthropists. They will be expected to report their findings to the class during the next class period.




  1. Anticipatory Set

    Students will view, read, or listen to President John F. Kennedy's speech, paying particularly close attention to that portion which includes the phrase, "My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom ofman. Finally, whether you are citizens of America orcitizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you."

    Day One

  2. After viewing, reading, or listening to the speech, ask learners, "What did President Kennedy mean by this statement?"

  3. Discuss why he made this challenge to U.S. citizens. Ask the learners, "Why is giving important?" List responses.

  4. Ask if the learners believe his challenge impacted volunteerism in the U.S.

  5. Define "philanthropy" as the act of giving time, talent and/or treasures to promote the common good.

  6. Identify ways that philanthropy has impacted civilization both historically and today.

  7. Brainstorm a list of "tangible goods" that they see as valuable, ie. car, jewelry, house, kidney, etc.and a list of "intangible goods," ie. time, talent, love, caring, thoughtfulness, etc..

  8. Ask learners why someone might be willing to give away something of great value to help someone else, perhaps even to the extent of giving up their own life for another. List these responses on the display board.

  9. Distribute and discuss the list of philanthropy terms and definitions. (Handout One)

  10. Day Two

  11. Have the learners define and cite examples of Civic Virtue.

  12. Discuss reasons why Civic Virtue is important and why it is considered to be an essential part of philanthropy.

  13. Distribute the list of Past and Present Philanthropists; Home and Abroad (Handout Two) and develop a list of philanthropic traits demonstarted by these philanthropists, and compare and contrast philanthropists past and present.

  14. Challenge the students to cite additional philanthropists and their contributions. Conclude the lessons with brainstorming how anyone can be a philanthropist.

  15. Inform the learners that tomorrow they will have a guest speaker who will talk about philanthropy. They will need to develop a list of questions to ask the guest speaker. Brainstorm a list of questions.

  16. As a class, develop a final list of questions to be asked.

  17. Distribute the Family Letter (Handout Three) and assign the learners to take this letter home and interview their family members (See School/Home Connection below).

  18. Day Three

  19. Take a few minutes to have the learners share what they discovered as a result of interviewing their family members, other relatives, and neighbors about what they know about philanthropy and philanthropists.

  20. Utilizing what the learners have just shared as a springboard, introduce the guest speaker, giving the appropriate background information to set the stage for the presentation.

  21. Allow time for the learners to ask questions of the speaker.

  22. Following the presentation and question-answer portion of lesson, have the learners reflect on (in writing) what they learned about philanthropy. Inform them that they are to include at least three traits of a philanthropist. They are to use the philanthropic terms they learned, convey what they feel to be philanthropy's affect on the world as well as their own neighborhood and community. And finally, their writing should reflect acceptable grammar and writing mechanics. Share the Writing Rubric (Handout Four) with the learners.


The learners will convey (in writing) what they personally learned about philanthropy. Included in their writing should be at least three traits of a philanthropist, the appropriate use of philanthropic terms, and an explanation of how philanthropy has/is affecting the world as well as their own neighborhood and community. Their writing is to be guided by the Writing Rubric (Handout Four).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Describe how different needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society, and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.7 Give examples of common resources in the community.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Define civic virtue.
      2. Benchmark MS.8 Define civil society.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.