If I Had A Million Dollars

6, 7, 8

Students select an issue area and research on the Internet, specifically the Learning to Give briefing papers to identify philanthropists and philanthropic organizations who have an interest in addressing that issue. Using the information gained from research, students write a persuasive letter to a philanthropist or philanthropic organization in support of a worthwhile cause in the community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • research and describe the work of philanthropists and philanthropic organizations.
  • write a persuasive letter in support of a worthwhile cause in the community.
  • Access to the Internet for research about philanthropists: http://www.learningtogive.org/teach/briefing-papers
  • Student copies of the handouts: Question Sheet and Parent Survey
Home Connection 

Send home Parent Survey about familiar philanthropic resources and causes in the area.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell students, "You have probably have seen or heard about the television show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?" Give students five minutes to write on this topic. Discuss answers with the large group and write comments on the board.

  2. Tell students, "Now suppose that you are a multimillionaire and want to contribute money to a worthwhile cause to benefit the common good. In other words, you are a philanthropist. What are some worthwhile causes in our community? How would your gift to this cause benefit the common good?" Brainstorm a list of causes that interest the class.

  3. Have students select one issue area, or cause, from the brainstormed list. Tell them to research philanthropists or philanthropic organizations that have an interest in that area. They will use the information collected to write a persuasive letter urging support for a community need or a cause that interests students. Give students access to the briefing papers on the Learning to Give website (under the Teach menu). They may scan the people, organizations, and concepts related to philanthropy. Have students fill out Question Sheet fpr one philanthropist or philanthropic organization. Allow about 15-20 minutes for this activity.

  4. After researching the information, students should write their persuasive letters, using the information from their question sheets, to philanthropists or philanthropic organizations to gain support for their cause. The letter should state the philanthropic cause and include an explanation of why it is worthwhile and deserves support or funding. These letters may be sent to the philanthropists or the philanthropic organizations.


The assessment for this activity is the persuasive letter stating the philanthropic cause and information that supports how this cause would benefit others.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Name at least one grant-making foundation and generally describe its purpose.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how individuals and organizations can use a foundation for giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.