Governmental Philanthropy--The Marshall Plan

9, 10, 11, 12

To investigate the effects of governmental philanthropy on a war-torn economy in post WWII Europe.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learners will:Instructor Note: use definitions about Altruism (n) Selfless concern for the welfare of others – altruist (n), altruistic (adj.), altruistically (adv.) Democracy (n, pl., -cies) A form of government exercised either directly by the people or through their elected representatives; rule by the majority; the practice of legal, political, or social equality 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 Infrastructure (n) An underlying base or foundation; the basic facilities needed for the functioning of a system Independent sector (n) When discussing the nonprofit sector used to emphasize the important role these organizations play as a “third force” outside of the realm of government and private business Non-governmental organization (NGO) (n) Term used by non-American countries to define the nonprofit sector Philanthropy (n) 1. The giving of one’s time, talent or treasure for the sake of another- or for the common good – Robert Payton, 2. Voluntary action for the public good -Robert Payton, 3. Voluntary giving, voluntary service, and voluntary association, primarily for the benefit of others – Robert Payton, 4. Giving and serving –Richard J. Bentley and Luana G. Nissan, 5. Active effort to promote human welfare, 6. A tradition, a spirit, and a sector of society – Maurice G. Gurin and Jon Van Til Private foundation (n) A nongovernmental, nonprofit organization with funds and program managed by its own trustees or directors that was established to maintain or aid social, educational, religious or other charitable activities serving the common welfare, primarily through the making of grants Third sector (n) Independent sector, non-governmental, non-business sector Universal values (n) A common set of morals found to be applicable world wide

  • use the definitions above and in Attachment One: Definitions to explain the differences between philanthropy, governmental philanthropy and private sector philanthropy as each relates to post World War II Europe.
  • study the effects of The Marshall Plan on the war torn countries of Europe.
  • produce evidence citing government and private sector philanthropy in post World War II Europe.
  • support a position on whether or not The Marshall Plan was philanthropic.
  • demonstrate problem solving and decision-making skills in expressing opinions about what may or may not have happened in post WWII Europe if the U.S. had not put The Marshall Plan into effect.
  • Attachment One: Definitions Vocabulary Terms
  • Attachment Two: Research Questions Explanation of the Marshall Plan
  • Attachment Three: Peer Group Task Questions
  • Textbooks
  • Access to Internet /media or library center


  1. Anticipatory Set: As the students enter the classroom, have a picture of war-torn Europe posted so it is visible to all students. Have a picture of post 9/11 lower Manhattan and the Pentagon ready to show the class after you ask the following question or use pictures of Baghdad after the Iraq war or other more recent conflict. Ask the students to think about what they would want someone to do for them if this was what our country looked like after a war. Be prepared to field issues such as laying blame, establishing fault, separating civilians from soldiers and the government. Brainstorm ideas and write on the board ideas of what it would be like to live there after a war. Put pictures up showing the aftermath of 9/11 or the Iraq war. Have the students react to what they know of the humanitarian, philanthropic efforts of individuals, corporations, foundations and government efforts during the days and weeks following.

  2. Give each student Attachment One: Definitions and Attachment Two: Research Questions, allowing enough time for reading.

  3. Discuss the meaning of each of the vocabulary words. Connect terms to text reading and Attachment Two: Research Questions.

  4. Discuss what The Marshall Plan was and what it meant to Europe.

  5. Discuss the following quote from George C. Marshall.

    " Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.”

  6. Students should answer the research questions in Attachment Two: Research Questions. Allow time to research, write answers and discuss the answers. Access to Internet sources, texts and research materials in the school library or media center is necessary.

  7. The teacher will divide the students into diverse groups of four. Have each group select one of the following nations of western Europe: United Kingdom, West Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey. Instructor Note: You may assign two countries to some groups.

  8. Give Attachment Three: Peer Group Task Questions to each group as the guide to their research and basis for their presentations.

  9. Allow a minimum of three class periods for the research.

  10. Group presentations.

  11. Administer quiz or test on content.


Evaluate Attachment Two: Research Questions as submitted by each student, peer group presentations, student research, class participation, teacher-observations of each component, quiz or test on The Marshall Plan.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities and the problem of factions.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.
    3. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.