Nonprofits in Our Community (3-5)

3, 4, 5

The purpose of this lesson is to have students name and recognize nonprofit organizations within the local community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • name nonprofit organizations in the community.
  • identify nonprofit organizations using resources like telephone books, technology and local periodicals.
  • Research Organizer (see Handout One)
  • Telephone books or other local resource list
  • Website addresses of your local community foundations
  • Local periodicals and publications such as magazines, programs from local symphonies, community bulletins, Chamber of Commerce guide, etc.

Helpful Web sites include:


  1. Anticipatory Set: Display a list of various profit and nonprofit organizations that could be found within the community, for example, local art museum, Girl Scouts of America, local grocery store, local retail store, local public library, local baseball team, local veterans hospital, etc. Pairs of students or small groups of children may try to categorize the list of organizations into profit and nonprofit organizations. Share the lists the students have categorized and discuss how students decided in which list to place the organizations.

  2. Review the definition of a nonprofit organization with the students. A nonprofit organization's income is not used for the benefit of people with an interest in the company. Separate tax treatment by the IRS exists based on whether it is a charity or not. Cite a few examples of well known nonprofit organizations like The Red Cross, United Way, Goodwill, etc.

  3. The students will research local nonprofits. Have three stations set up around the classroom: Station 1 - telephone books, Station 2 - computer, and Station 3 - local publications.

  4. Before arranging students into three groups, brainstorm and list key words students can look for when searching on the Internet and in the Yellow Pages. For a Web search, type in the city or community name and words like nonprofit, foundations, or charities. Guidestar is a Web site that can be used to find nonprofit organizations. Click on the advance search and type in the zip code for a local area. This will help narrow a search for nonprofit organizations for a particular community. Another very helpful web site is Idealist at Click on “Organizations” on the right side of the home page under “Advanced Search.” On the search page entering the country, state and city, such as “United States, Indiana and Indianapolis” will result in a comprehensive list of nonprofits and their focus. For a Yellow Pages search, look in the index for subjects like churches, community service agencies, hospitals, mental health services, orchestras and bands, relief agencies, veterans organizations, volunteer services, women’s services, youth organizations and centers, zoos, etc. Research Organizer (see Handout One) should be duplicated, with several - at least one per member - distributed to each research group.

  5. Arrange the students into three groups and tell each group to find local nonprofit organizations. Students will keep a running record of the organizations they find. Have each group of students circulate to each station.

  6. After students have generated a list of nonprofit organizations, share the lists as a class. On chart paper, record all the local nonprofits children found and discuss why each organization is a nonprofit. Ask students if they can name any other local nonprofits not mentioned. The list should include organizations like:


Have students create a mobile of local nonprofit organizations. The students will write the name of an organization on an index card and draw a picture on the back of the card depicting how the organization helps the community. Each mobile should have five organizations named. Students will receive one point for each nonprofit named.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name examples of civil society organizations in the community.