Nonprofit Research

6, 7, 8

Students determine which community need they want to address with a service project. Once a priority need has been determined, they research related nonprofit organizations with a student-generated list of questions.


PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • identify local community nonprofits and their missions.
  • choose a need for their focus in the school, neighborhood or local community.
  • evaluate nonprofits based on student-generated questions. 
  • video about a teen who identified a need and took action. 
  • handout to evaluate each nonprofit organization researched
  • nonprofit organization: (n) a term describing the Internal Revenue Service's designation of an organization whose income is not used for the benefit or private gain of stockholders, directors, or any other persons with an interest in the company; separate tax treatment exists based on whether it is charitable or not. 
  • foundation: (n) an organization created from designated funds from which the income is distributed as grants to not-for-profit organizations or, in some cases, to people
  • needs assessment: (n) the study of an organization's program or situation to determine what activity or activities should be initiated or expanded to satisfy a need
  • decision-making model: (n) the process for concluding which decisions need to be made and how to find alternatives for each decision.
  • inquiry: (n) a close examination of a matter in a search for information or truth.
  • grant: (v) a financial donation given to support a person, organization, project or program. Most grants are awarded to not-for-profit organizations.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show the YouTube video about Indiana teen Ashley Slayton who made a difference in the lives of people with cancer. Discuss why she chose to address this need. What did she do? How do we know it made a difference?

  2. From the lists generated in the previous lesson, the students choose the issue they want to address. In this lesson, they research organizations related to their chosen issue area. 

    Brainstorm questions they have about the organizations that will help them understand their work and how they can get involved. For example: What is their mission? How do volunteers help? Who do they work with? What are their equitable practices? These questions will guide their research.

  3. Students work in small groups to conduct research on different organizations. They write answers to their questions about the nonprofits and share what they learned with the rest of the class. Compare the organizations and discuss what makes them good potential partners or places to volunteer. 

  4. Note: You may want to offer a workshop on researching techniques.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Name a local community foundation and describe its broad purpose.
  2. 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.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.