Nonprofits? (6-8)

6, 7, 8

Students will distinguish the nonprofit sector from the for-profit sector.

PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define and give examples of nonprofit organizations.
  • name and illustrate examples in the local community.
  • compare and contrast nonprofits to the for-profit sector.
  • Profit and Nonprofit Notecards (Handout One) Each group needs a set of note cards, with 10 profit and 10 nonprofit organizations listed.
  • Recording Sheet (Handout Two) and Recoding Sheet II (Handout Three)
  • Assessment (Handout Four)


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Students will be paired up and given a set of note cards (Handout One). Do not tell them that the cards are for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Partners will be instructed to look over all the cards and sort the note cards into two categories that make sense to them. Each student records what cards are in each category and name the categories on Part One of the "Recording Sheet" (Handout Two).

  2. Each group of partners will then pair up with another partner pair and tell how they sorted their cards. The two groups will determine two categories and sort one set of cards. Each student records how they sorted the cards on Part Two of the Recording Sheet II (Handout Three).

  3. As the whole group meets again, a member of one group will come to the board and place their cards into two categories, explaining the reasoning for the sorting. The teacher will announce to the class how many "mistakes" there are (the teacher knows the cards are to be sorted by for-profit and nonprofit organizations but doesn't tell the students that). A second group has the opportunity to make changes to the groupings. Additional groups will be given the opportunity to make changes if needed to arrive at the lists that represent for profits and nonprofits (at this time the groups have not been given these labels).

  4. Discuss the characteristics of each group. (Possible answers include: help people, voluntary, for public benefit, provide a service.)

  5. The teacher will point out that Category A includes for-profit organizations while Category B organizations are called nonprofits. Each group will then come up with their definition of nonprofit organizations. Have each group read their definitions to the class. Give them the official definition to compare and note the similarities to their definitions. (In nonprofit organizations income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors, or any other persons with an interest in the company.)

  6. Hold a class discussion to compare and contrast the purpose of for-profit and nonprofit organizations: Why do the organizations in each group exist, what is there purpose? What are the benefits to the community of having for-profit organizations? Nonprofit organizations? How would the community, nation, world be different without organizations in these two categories? Do we need both for-profit and nonprofit organizations in a community?


Using Handout Four: Summary and Reflection ask students to identify and list some of the more common characteristics of the two groups (A and B). Then on the back of this sheet have the students identify and list three nonprofit organizations and three for-profit companies and identify some of their more specific characteristics. When this task has been completed, ask the students to return to the front of this handout and write a brief paragraph in response to the following question: How might the quality of life in our community, nation and the world be different if there were no nonprofits organizations?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Define the terms "profit" and "not-for-profit."
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define and give examples of civil society sector corporations.
    2. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name examples of civil society organizations in the community.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify and describe how civil society organizations help the community.