Fame, Fortune and Philanthropy: Philanthropy Lesson (8th)

6, 7, 8

Learners will develop a working knowledge of the vocabulary associated with philanthropy and awareness of the rich history of philanthropy in the United States.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Class Period with Optional second class

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy.
  • develop awareness of the individual philanthropists and the causes they support.
  • use philanthropy vocabulary words: civic responsibility, common good, foundation, non-profit sector.
  • A computer lab with Internet access
  • Meeting Needs - copies of this worksheet for each student (Handout One) Spanish version (Handout Two)
  • Pencils, rulers to create bar graphs

Look to the Stars https://www.looktothestars.org/

Celebs Gone Good: https://www.celebsgonegood.com/

USA Today: Top celebrity charities and foundations: https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/2001-12-18-celebrity-donations-chart.htm. [2001]


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show pictures of or write these names on a board: Jimmy Carter, Oprah Winfrey, Eva Longoria, Warren Buffet, Paul Newman, John D. Rockefeller, Bono, Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates. Ask the students what they think these people have in common. Through discussion, help them conclude that they are all famous but that they have all made contributions for the common good – for the benefit of all. 

  2. Tell the students that all of the people whose names are displayed are philanthropists.

    Define philanthropy as giving time, talent and treasure and taking action for the common good.

    People give for causes about which they feel deeply. Many celebrities have specific causes they support philanthropically.

  3. The teacher may focus on one of the people as an example, summarizing the information for the students, or the teacher may choose to divide the class into five groups, give each group several copies of the information about a philanthropist.

    Current information is available at Look to the Stars http://www.looktothestars.org/.

    The group summarizes the information on a large piece of chart paper and posts it on the classroom wall. The class then does a “walk about” to learn about the philanthropist. Information is available on the Learning to Give website about the philanthropy of different famous people including:

    • Jimmy Carter 
    • Bill and Melinda Gates 
    • W.K.Kellogg 
    • Paul Newman 
    • Oprah Winfrey 
  4. Tell the students they are going to discover more about famous celebrity philanthropists. People, some famous and many not famous, often establish Foundations – Nonprofit Organizations to address specific community or global needs or causes. A Nonprofit Oganization is 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. The profit is reinvested in the organization to facilitate its mission.

  5. Handout the worksheet and have students conduct Internet research (or have hard copies for them) about the celebrity or foundation of their choice. Students complete the worksheets in pairs, small groups or as individuals.  If more time is needed, the assignment may be completed as homework or during the optional day two.

  6. Optional Day Two:

  7. Students complete Handout One: Meeting Needs started on the previous day.

  8. Compare the answers to questions 1 – 3. Then ask the students if they learned anything new or surprising from completing the work sheet.

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. 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. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify civil society organizations that protect and speak for minority viewpoints.
  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.