Fame, Fortune and Philanthropy

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 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • identify three historical figures from the content and briefly describe their philanthropic gifts.
  • make the connections that philanthropy transcends cultures.
  • access an internet site, read and analyze the data provided.
  • select information from a chart and enter it on a graph.
  • compose a paragraph describing an aspect of philanthropy, using appropriate vocabulary.
  • Internet access for researching foundations and celebrity charity
  • Handout One: Meeting Needs - student worksheet


  1. Anticipatory Set: Show pictures of or write these names on a board: Jimmy Carter, Oprah Winfrey, Paul Newman, John D. Rockefeller, W.K. Kellogg, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. Discuss who these people are and what they have in common. Elicit answers that are in line with: persons who used their political status, entertainment persona or great wealth to give their time, talent and treasure for the common good. You may focus on Jimmy Carter and briefly discuss the Habitat for Humanity project and the Carter Center’s work for peace, humanity and free elections around the world.

  2. Discuss and define the following concepts as they relate to famous philanthropiests:philanthropy, civic responsibility, altruism, community service, common good, conflict resolution, core democratic values, ennobled self, foundation, nonprofit sector. Note: See Learning to Give's glossary of philanthropic terms and concept papers.

  3. Discuss what people in their own communities can give…TIME, TREASURE, TALENT = PHILANTHROPY.

  4. Guide learners in creating a chart of the persons discussed in the Anticipatory Set, citing how each gave of their time, talent and treasure.

  5. Distribute the worksheet and have students access the Internet to research foundations and celebrities.Students should take a few minutes to run through the list and see which names they recognize.

  6. Students should cite five other famous people, not previously discussed, and add these five to the chart they have made.

  7. Students are to write a paragraph using appropriate vocabulary from the lesson. Suggested topic: Individual philanthropy supports core democratic values.


Evaluate student-constructed chart using the data provided on the website. Evaluate the paragraph, class participation.


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.