Philanthropy and Philanthropists: Philanthropy Unit (10th)

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will understand the meaning of “philanthropy,” associated concepts, and the qualities that philanthropists share, especially those qualities of character and personal virtue.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-five minute class period

The learner will:

  • define and use the vocabulary of philanthropy.
  • list and describe how volunteer groups act for the common good.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Write “philanthropy” on the board. Have the learners write down what they might recall or think the word means. Give them about two minutes to write something down, and then ask for volunteers to share their ideas and write their responses.

    Optional: Show segment one of the video What is Philanthropy? In this brief video people are asked to guess the meaning of philanthropy. Teacher Note: This video can be viewed here:

  2. Use the following as a definition of philanthropy: the giving of one’s time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the sake of another or for the common good. Give learners Handout One: Philanthropic Terms.

  3. Focusing on the term common good. Tell the class that people who are philanthropic often form associations that protect and/or enhance the common good. These associations are called nonprofit organizations. They will be investigating some of the organizations. While the emphasis of this lesson is on nonprofits, note that for-profit corporations often do  philanthropic work to help the communities in which they do business.

  4. As a class, brainstorm all of the volunteer agencies they know that act for the common good. After they have brainstormed, students are to return to their previous small group. Hand each group a local telephone book. Ask the learners to look in the Yellow Pages under Human Services and Social Services to see if the volunteer agencies that they listed as a class are in their local area. If phonebooks are not available, look at your zipcode on GuideStar for a list of local nonprofits.

  5. Ask each group to list at least five additional agencies found in the phone books and what services they might offer for the common good. As a whole class, have the learners share the agencies they have identified, add these to the original list if they are not already on it.

  6. Ask the students if they can identify which of the listed agencies are government agencies and which might be nonprofit organizations. Tell the students that the nonprofit sector often supplies services that the government cannot or chooses not to provide.


Completion of the group activities.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
    2. 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. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.