What Does a Philanthropic Organization Do?

6, 7, 8

Students will learn about the work of a local nonprofit organization.

PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define "nonprofit" and "profit" organizations.
  • differentiate between nonprofit and profit organizations.
  • identify examples of three local philanthropic organizations.
  • http://www.guidestar.org - Use Guidestar Web site's search engine selecting on your area's zip codes to create a list of local nonprofit organizations. Use this list to make index cards, six per each three students
  • Guest speaker from a local nonprofit organization
  • Home Link Assignment (Attachment One) - make copies or write on chalkboard
Home Connection 

Distribute Home Link Assignment (Attachment One). Ask students to make a list of three philanthropic organizations and describe what they do.



  1. Anticipatory Set:Start by asking students, "If you were asked to do a somewhat challenging job, would you do it just to help someone out, or would you only do it if you were paid?" Discuss.




  2. Ask, "Does anyone know what a nonprofit organization is?" Discuss possible answers and list on chalkboard. "How do you think it is different from a for profit organization?" Discuss and list.

  3. Give the formal definition for nonprofits:

  4. nonprofit organization: an organization operating for charitable, religious, scientific, literary, or educational purposes whose income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors, or any other persons with an interest in the company.

  5. for profit organization: an organization providing goods and services with a focus on profit and meeting consumer demands.

  6. Place on the board and discuss the following characteristics of each:

  7. Nonprofit For Profit Can provide public goods Private goods and services Can provide private goods Market oriented Client satisfaction, trusted Customer satisfaction Voluntary payment/third party payment Voluntary payment Focuses on service, breaks even Focus on profit Efficient at meeting consumer demands at minimum cost Will not undertake unprofitable activities

  8. Fromthe homework in Lesson One: Characterizing Philanthropic People, ask students to give examples of organizations they think would be philanthropic and explain why, e.g., Big Brothers/Big Sisters, American Red Cross.

  9. Give small groups of about three students each a set of six index cards. Each card should have the name of one local business. Students should separate the cards into two piles, one of nonprofits and the other of profit organizations. (See Materials section on finding organizations for your area.) Students should explain why each organization is in the pile it's in.

  10. Introduce a guest speaker from a local nonprofit organization, such as the American Red Cross, to explain in detail their specific organization.

  11. Have the class work together to draw conclusions about the organization's purpose, mission statement, source of funding, and structure.


Observe students during the small group activity while they work on putting organizations into the correct piles. No grade will be given.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Recognize terms that describe the civil society sector.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark MS.1 State the purpose of a mission statement and describe how civil society organization mission statements relate to philanthropy.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the basic structure of a civil society organization.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how a specific civil society organization in the community operates.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.