Nonprofits Compete

3, 4, 5

Students will recognize that nonprofit organizations compete with other nonprofit organizations for money, funding, and resources.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • locate different nonprofit organizations that are featured in the news and describe their needs.
  • allocate money to competing nonprofit organizations.
  • 100 Donation Dollars (Attachment One)
  • See Many in Need (Attachment Two)
  • Decisions, Decisions—Distribution of Funds (Attachment Three)
  • Scissors
  • Newspapers, news magazines, news websites

Lewis, Barbara A. The Kid's Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose — and Turn Creative Thinking into Positive Action. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 1991.


  1. Explain to students that as a class they have set a goal to raise funds to donate to a family in need (see Lesson Four: FUNdraising Goal), but there are hundreds of other ways they could have donated the money. Nonprofit organizations are competing for community support. It is hard to focus on just one.

  2. Instruct students to find news articles relating to a need in the community, state, nation, or world, for example, earthquake relief agencies helping victims, wildlife preservation organizations saving endangered animals, homeless shelters giving food and shelter. As students locate articles, ask them to record the need or problem, why donations are needed, and how much money should be donated. See Many in Need (Attachment Two).

  3. Write on the board the amount of money the class has raised for the service project or an amount the class could realistically raise. Tell students that all of the other charities, nonprofit agencies, and organizations they just located in the news articles are competing for the class' service project funds.

  4. Have students share the information about needs in the community from Many in Need (see Attachment Two) and record them on the board. As a class, select or vote for the five most needy. With the five chosen, pair students to work together to divide the given amount of money into five shares. Have students analyze the severity of each need and decide an amount for each need from the total amount. See Decisions, Decisions—Distribution of Funds (Attachment Three).

  5. When students have finished their allocations, have students compare and contrast their distribution models.


Teacher observation of students participating in locating needs within communities and deciding on how to distribute funding to these causes.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.5 Discuss how private funds might be distributed among competing priorities.