Pathway to Philanthropy

3, 4, 5

The class identifies a local non-profit organization and plans a service project to support the endeavor.

Lesson Rating 
PrintFive Forty-Five Minute Sessions (or longer, depending on the project)

The learner will:

  • use a decision-making model to choose a local organization to work with.
  • make a plan to carry out a service project with the local organization.
  • keep a journal with reflections on the progress of the service project.
  • read aloud copy of Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell
  • journals
  • chart paper and markers
Teacher Preparation 

Teacher Note: Set up a field trip to one or more of the local nonprofit organizations the students are interested in working with. Or, invite a representative from the organization to the classroom to talk about their mission and to discuss ways the students can help. Optional: Arrange for several speakers to come to the class before they decide on a final organization to work with. After they have chosen the organization, arrange a field trip to that site.

Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students invite their families to participate in the final demonstration of their service project.

  • Kaye, Cathryn Berger. The Service Learning Book Shelf. Los Angeles: ABCD Books, 2000. ISBN: 0967807220
  • Lewis, Barbara. Kid’s with Courage: True Stories about Young People Making a Difference. Free Spirit Publishing, 1992. ISBN: 0915793393
  • Mitchell, Margaree King. Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. Aladdin, 1998. ISBN: 0689819137


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Read aloud Uncle Jed’s Barbershop (see Bibliographical References) to the class. After reading, ask them to identify examples of philanthropy and name whether they are examples of sharing time, talent, or treasure. Talk about the motives of the givers. Discuss how the people felt about the giving and the receiving in the story.

  2. Challenge the students to connect the story to their own experience. Ask them to think about ways they can give or share their time, talent and/or treasure to contribute to the work of one of the nonprofit organizations they studied in the first lesson. Write their brainstormed ideas on chart paper.

  3. Use a decision-making model to decide what service project the class will do together. On a new piece of chart paper, write the decision that the class must make. For example, "What organization shall we work with in our service project?" From the brainstormed list choose the top two to five choices (ideally three choices). Narrowing this list down to a few choices may take some discussion and voting. Write these final choices in boxes that take up the rest of the chart paper.

  4. Students list the positive and negative arguments for each of the final (two to five) choices. Write all their comments in the boxes on the chart paper. Write a plus or minus sign next to each comment indicating whether it is an argument for or against the choice.

  5. Let students make supporting arguments for the service projects they would like to carry out. Your research and resources will help you determine the best choice or choices for your class. Hold a class vote to decide. (You may have good arguments for carrying out more than one project.) Count the votes to determine which service project to carry out.

  6. Optional Field Trip or Visitor: Visit the site of—or invite speakers from—the final organizations to gain more information and help the class make their decision about what project to do. This may add days to the decision-making process.

  7. Students make a plan to carry out their agreed-upon service project. The project may involve raising money, giving volunteer hours, or sharing talents. The planning or carrying out of the project may involve field trips to the nonprofit organization site or other sites where the students are working. Teacher Note: It is important that the teacher should provide information that helps students gain sensitivity for the people with whom they will be working.

  8. Students should maintain a running journal of project work. They will do reflective writing to share their feelings and ideas. Their writing should describe the service and identify the outcomes.

  9. After the students carry out the service project, culminate the project with a related celebration or demonstration. The students may write a song or prepare a video that tells about their project. The students should perform these for their parents or other students in the school. Note: The project may continue for the remainder of the year and beyond.


Assess student participation in the service project. Are they showing enthusiasm and adding their creative energy? Are they supporting each other? Does their journal writing reflect understanding of the project and its outcomes in the community?

Cross Curriculum 

The class plans and carries out a service project to support a local nonprofit organization of their choosing.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define and give examples of civil society sector corporations.
    2. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name examples of civil society organizations in the community.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify and describe how civil society organizations help the community.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.