Philanthropy in Your Community

9, 10, 11, 12

To teach students that giving and sharing time, talent or treasure for the common good of their community is philanthropy.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree to five forty-minute class periods plus experiential component time.

The learner will:

  • brainstorm how an action to benefit others is a type of philanthropy.
  • identify the commonwealth approach to philanthropy.
  • plan and carry out a philanthropic action in their community.
  • reflect how their action qualifies as philanthropy.

Student handouts

  • Kaye, Cathryn Berger. Service Learning, Raising Service Projects to the Next Level. Reston, VA: NASSP and Quest International, 1997.
  • Sterling, M.E., M.Ed., and D. H. Rice. Live Aid in The 20th Century. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials, 1997.
  • Youth as Resources: 3901 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208-0409, 317-920-2560.


  1. Read or hand out copies of Live Aid handout. If possible, listen to a recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Bob Geldorf.

  2. Introduce "commonwealth" approach:

    • service is public work,
    • creating things or processes, solving problems that have lasting and civil impact especially in cooperative efforts with others;
    • recognizes young people's productive energies and talents to be co-creators of their learning and of their environment or community.
  3. Review "Starting a Community Service Project" handout (from Youth as Resources, Indianapolis, IN).

  4. Read guidelines and plan a philanthropic action the class could carry out in the community. Brainstorm, write ideas on the board. Narrow the list to workable one by discussion and consensus. A workable activity for most towns or cities is to design and build a park in an empty lot or beautify an area in a school building or on school grounds, or a section of a city street or block.

  5. When students have decided on a project, everyone should work together on the master plan. Then list the jobs on the board and allow students to choose to work in small groups of three to five to plan a phase of the project. Use the student handout: "Plan To Act" (handout).

  6. Decide where to carry out the project. A walk or bus ride through the surrounding area brings ideas to mind.

  7. Decide whom to ask permission to use the space which may require writing letters or calling officials.

  8. Invite a landscaper or garden club or other expert to help design the area with the class.

  9. Decide when to do the project and make arrangements for transportation, permission to leave school, volunteers to supervise and help.

  10. Estimate the cost of the project and decide how to fund it. If plans include benches, flower boxes, fountains, trees or shrubs, a local club or foundation may help. This may involve preparing a presentation which students present to the funding organization. Students may wish to raise funds on their own in the school or ask the community to fund the project.

  11. Arrange for tools, supplies, materials and mentors to be at the site when ready to work.

  12. Carry out the philanthropic activity.

  13. Allow time for reflection (see handout: Reflection on a Service Learning Project).

  • Student answering discussion questions from Live Aid
  • Student completing handouts 
  • Student participating in whole group and small group planning and carrying out the project. The student:

a. Is on-site every day and spends majority of time on task
b. Takes a leadership role when appropriate, encourages others
c. Shows evidence of critical thinking and problem solving skills
d. Is flexible, filling in for others when necessary
e. Completes tasks in a timely and acceptable manner

Cross Curriculum 

Students will carry out an action to benefit their community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.