Recognizing Philanthropy in Our Community (8th Grade)

6, 7, 8

Students describe the characteristics of someone who helps their community and relate those qualities to the definition of philanthropy. They research individuals or organizations in their community who do voluntary or philanthropic work and send them thank-you letters or invitations to a celebration designed to honor their philanthropic achievements.

PrintOne 50-60 minute class period

The learner will:

  • identify what it means to be a member of a community.
  • determine how the characteristics of someone who helps make their community better compares to the definition of philanthropy.
  • investigate and identify the philanthropic work of specific individuals and/or organizations in their community. (Optional Extension)
  • design a certificate of appreciation to be given to all individuals and organizations identified by the class as being good members of the community. (Optional Extension)
  • Various resources to identify and contact individuals and/or organizations who as members of the community demonstrate what it means to be philanthropic ( i.e. newspaper articles, Chamber of Commerce, books, magazines, brochures, blogs, websites, phone books etc.)
Teacher Preparation 

Prior to the lesson the teacher will need to make arrangements for a representative from a community organization to come to class and share information about their non-profit organization.

Home Connection 

Learners could be encouraged to ask family members to identify individuals and/or organizations in the community who they think exemplify what it means to be a good community member. This could generate some interesting dailogue around a topic that may not always be a part of normal conversation in most family units, giving members of the family an opportunity to share what is important and meaningful to them.


Write words that describe a person who is philanthropic. Circle the words that describe you.


Adapted from the Learning to Give Lessons 


  1. Anticipatory Set: Write the following words on the display board: Good Members of a Community and Philanthropists. Have the learners share what they think might be some of the qualifications needed for someone to be considered a good member of a community. After a brief discussion, ask the class, "If someone or an organization gives of their time, talents, and/or treasures for the sake of another and/or the common good might that individual or organization be consider a good member of a community? What else might they be considered? (Answer: Philanthropists) Review the definition of a philanthropist.

  2. Tell the class that you have invited someone from the community to come to the class and share what it means to be a good member of a community/to be a philanthropist but before the guest arrives they will need to develop some questions that they would like to ask of the guest.

  3. Have the students create a list of questions that they would like to ask a well known philanthropists of their community. Some questions you may suggest to the students are:

    • What do you think it means to be a member of a community?
    • How important is it that a member of a community work for the common good of their community?
    • Why and when did you (or you organization) begin to first work for the common good of the community?
    • Did you (or your organization) have any role models?
    • What skills or talents do you think one needs in order to work in their community for the common good?
    • What are the rewards or personal growth you (or your organization) have gained from helping your community?
    • Do you think you (or your organization) will continue to help the community? Why or why not?
    • What advice would you give young people who are considering ways they might help promote the common good in their communities?
    • Conclude the phone interview thanking the contact for giving of their time for the interview and for sharing their thoughts and ideas with the class.
  4. Assign a question to each student or group of students and have them prepare to ask it of the guest.

  5. Introduce the guest to the students with a brief summary of their community involvement. Allow the students to ask their prepared questions, and any follow-up questions that arise.

  6. After the guest leaves, review the interview by asking the class to summarize some of the things shared about being a good member of a community.

  7. Talk about ways that they, as a class, could also demonstrate the characteristics of a good member of the community during the one-day event.


The formal assessment for this lesson is determined by the learner's involvement in the class discussions. If utilizing the Extension, group work, and the learners' participation in the activities leading up to and including the celebration event can also be a part of this assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Write letters of appreciation or certificate of award to individuals who have done philanthropic work (time, talent, or treasure) for the common good of the community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.7 Give examples of common resources in the community.
  2. 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.