Characterizing Philanthropic People

6, 7, 8

Students will gain a basic understanding of philanthropic characteristics and how they pertain to their own lives.

PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy.
  • list characteristics of a philanthropic person.
  • identify actions of philanthropic people.
  • give an example of his or her own philanthropy.
  • Song: "Chain of Love" by Clay Walker
  • Clear chalkboard or wall
  • Journal notebook and pencil
  • Teacher prepared Post-It Notes from List of Philanthropic and Non-Philanthropic Traits (Attachment One)
Home Connection 

The students may ask a parent for ideas on philanthropic organizations.


Walker, Clay. Live, Laugh, Love. Wea/Warner Brothers. Audio CD, August 24, 1999. ASIN B00000IXUN.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Play the song "Chain of Love" by Clay Walker. Ask the question, "What is the theme of this song? What is it talking about?" (Helping others) "What was the result when these people helped the strangers? Did they have to pay them or do something in return?" Lead students to the idea that they helped just because it was the right thing to do.


  2. Introduce the definition of philanthropy. (The definition in this lesson will be: "individuals or organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world.") Explain that philanthropic organizations are known as nonprofits.

  3. On the board or wall, draw a large T-graph. Label one side "Philanthropic Traits," the other side "Non-Philanthropic Traits." Give each student a self stickingnote with a trait listed on it from List of Philanthropic and Non-Philanthropic Traits (Attachment One). Allow students to bring their self sticking notes to the board andplace them under the correct heading. Discuss why each does or does not belong under that heading.

  4. In class discussion, have three to five students share examples of Americans and others who helped others or acted for the common good.

  5. In individual journals, direct students to write a ¾-1 full-page entry on a philanthropic act they experienced either as a recipient or a giver. They should also describe how it made them feel.

  6. Explain to students that there are also organizations that are philanthropic. Ask students to give two or three examples, e.g., Big Brothers/Big Sisters, American Red Cross.

  7. Ask students to prepare two or three examples of other philanthropic organizations to bring to class the next day. Encourage them to ask someone at home for help or ideas, or use the Web site The examples should include the name of the organization and its main focus or mission.


Students will be graded on their journal entry based upon the following criteria: Entry should be ¾ - 1 full page. Entry should describe the students philanthropic act and how they felt about it. Credit or No Credit will be given.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.