What Does a Nonprofit Do, and for Whom? (6-8)

6, 7, 8

Students will investigate key local and national nonprofit organizations by researching their histories, services, and target populations.

PrintTwo Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will

  • research a local or national nonprofit organization.
  • Teacher-created list of nonprofits with local affiliation for the student research project (See Handout One for ideas or www.guidestar.org and/or www.idealist.org) Teacher Note: Since Lesson Three asks students to plan and carry out interviews, be sure to include nonprofits for which it is possible to conduct those interviews.
  • Information Recording Sheet (Handout Two)
  • 18 x 12 paper and markers or crayons for the poster
  • Team Reporting Notes (Handout Three)

Philanthropic Research, Inc. GuideStar: The Donor's Guide to the Charitable Universe https://www.guidestar.org/ (10 April 2001).


  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask students to recall Lesson One by writing down the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word “nonprofit.” Share the definition of “nonprofit”—a term describing the Internal Revenue Service’s designation of an organization whose income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors, or any other persons with an interest in the company; separate tax treatment exists based on whether it is charitable or not. Have students compare what they wrote with the actual definition.

  2. Day One:

    Pair each student with another student for their work on this and subsequent activities. Each team chooses a local or national nonprofit organization from the teacher created list (see Materials). Inform students that part of their research will include an interview with a representative from the nonprofit regarding their work in the community and their role in the nonprofit organization. In this manner, students will be accountable for gaining their own knowledge. The teacher may help set up some of the interviews or invite the representatives to visit the class. Interviews may be in person, by phone, or by email.

  3. Students use Handout Two to record their notes.

  4. The research period may take homework and/or class time. The following two lessons give more detail about the interviews and presentations.

  5. Students create an informational poster about the nonprofit to use as a prop while they make a presentation of their organization. The poster should includethe organization’s name, mission statement and a few facts

  6. Day Two (may be several days later)

  7. Teams present their information to the rest of the class. Each student is responsible for taking notes on the organizations presented. These notes will be recorded on Team Reporting Notes (Handout Three).


Students will be assessed based on the completion of both recording sheets and the poster. The poster should contain the name of the nonprofit and its primary mission. Teachers should realize that all information might not be available on the first recording sheet. Note to teachers: You may decide whether you would like students to research the national nonprofit or if you would like their research to focus on the local branch, if separate information is available.

Cross Curriculum 

The students create and display informational posters in a school display area so that other students may gain information about local nonprofits, their work, and importance to the common good.

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.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify and describe how civil society organizations help the community.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss an issue affecting the common good in the classroom or school and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.