Tug of Roles or Who is the Bigger Philanthropist?

3, 4, 5

This lesson will emphasize how business and government define philanthropy within their organizations. This will explain the effects on citizens.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will

  • describe the types of philanthropy in business and government.
  • give examples of how the philanthropy of businesses and government enhance citizens.
  • Sample Letter to Invite Speakers( Attachment One)
  • Sample Thank You Letter to Speakers (Attachment Two)
  • Notes on Business/Government Philanthropy Speaker (Attachment Four)
  • Excerpt from A City Where Business and Philanthropy Flourish (Attachment Three)
  • Chinese jump rope
  • Chart paper / markers
  • Regular jump rope
  • Articles from periodicals, newspapers, or magazines (see Attachment Three for sample of type you will need to secure)
  • Word Cards attached to string (Business, Government, Philanthropy)
Home Connection 

Prior to the visitation, students are to research the business/governmental agency for information about their philanthropic activities. Prepare a list of questions to ask the speakers.

  • Barone, Michael. "A City Where Business and Philanthropy Flourish," The American Enterprise, September/October, 1998.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Ask: What is tug of war? Are there any rules that need to be obeyed? How is a winner determined?

    Teacher note: Secure two or three speakers at least five weeks prior to teaching this lesson. Business speakers may include an automotive company community outreach representative, a local pharmacy, a McDonald's manager, etc. Government sources could include representatives from city government, the postal service, etc. Sample Letter to Invite Speakers (see Attachment One) and Sample Thank You Letter to Speakers (see Attachment Two) have been included for your use. About one week before this lesson is started, contact your speaker to confirm the appointment. Solicit two or three student volunteers to make a certificate of appreciation for each speaker.


    Day One

  2. Give the word cards entitled business and government to two students. Ask the students to hang the card around their neck, then take sides opposite one another. Take out the jump rope with a loop tied at each end. Only one finger can be used through the loop. Allow 20 seconds for a tug of war game. Explain to the students that this is like the competition for their resources, their time, talents, and treasure. Businesses claim resources through the market place, government through taxes and fees.

  3. Now play a variation of the game tug of war. Pass out the card labeled philanthropy to another student. Ask what it means. Define it as "the giving of time, talent and treasure for the common good." Arrange the three students so that they are standing in three areas to resemble a triangle. Replace the jump rope with the Chinese jump rope (this can be a piece of rope with the ends tied together). Explain that during this game, only one finger can be used to grip the rope. Allow 20 seconds. Ask the students to explain what they noticed happened when the third person was added to the game. What could have been done? Record responses.

  4. Put the words self interest, compromise, negotiation, and competition on the board. Working in groups of three or four, ask students to define each term. Solicit definitions and write the clearest definition of each on the board.

  5. Explain that in society there are many forms of competition that occur when people want something that promotes their own interests. Philanthropy is the giving of one's time, talent, or treasure. In business and government, there is competition for each of these.

  6. Ask:

    • How do we satisfy each and keep everything equal?
    • Who should receive most of the time, talent, or treasure?
    • Should one group receive more than the other should? Why or why not?
  7. Give the studentschart paper and markers for groups to record their responses to the questions. Allow ten minutes for students to discuss these questions in their groups. Discuss as a whole group the responses of how students have decided how to give of their treasures. Students should explain that each group is able to access our time, talents and treasures equally but for different purposes and actions.

  8. Day Two

  9. Distribute Notes on Business/Government Philanthropy Speaker (see Attachment Four) to students prior to the speaker(s) coming to the classroom. Tell students that the form(s) should be turned in at the end of the presentation(s).

  10. Allow each speaker 15 minutes to make a presentation. Encourage students to ask questions after each speaker to further understanding.

  11. After the speakers have finished, or the next day, have students discuss what was learned from the speakers. Is philanthropy only in the best interests of the companies/agencies or is it also in the best interests of the consumers/citizens? Why do these companies/agencies make philanthropy a part of their business?


Have students write a letter thanking the speakers for coming to share What Philanthropy Means in their company or agency. To serve as an assessment, the letter should include examples of the company/agency's efforts to promote philanthropy and good citizenship. Write an essay that explains how businesses and government can work together in a philanthropic endeavor and how it affects individuals.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.7 Describe the concept of competing self-interest.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. 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.