Let's Get the Story Out There

9, 10, 11, 12

To design a community needs assessment and collect, interpret and analyze collected data which will be used in their service-learning projects with foundations and agencies discovered in Lesson One: Foundation, Nonprofit, All Matter to Me.

Lesson Rating 
PrintSeven Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods; One hour scheduled interview with foundation or nonprofit. Scheduled celebration time to present pamphlet to high school counseling office, school library or community center.

The learners will:

  • design a needs assessment questionnaire for the community to determine awareness about nonprofit organizations and/or foundations.
  • participate in a cooperative learning group whose purpose is to design a ten-question needs-assessment questionnaire.
  • distribute the questionnaire to five adults he/she knows and collect the results.
  • compile the data from his/her needs assessment.
  • evaluate the data.
  • develop plan of action based on results to better inform the community about services available.
  • conduct an oral interview with the director of a foundation or nonprofit organization in the appropriate manner, including dress and behavior.
  • ask appropriate questions during the interview in which he/she will gain knowledge of major operational characteristics of organizations in the nonprofit sector, and will learn legal responsibilities of nonprofit boards and how they operate.
  • write a paper on the foundation or nonprofit that the peer group has chosen.
  • present information to the class.
  • compile a pamphlet for community use.
  • participate in reflection activities.
  • evaluate the service experience.
  • Pencils and paper
  • Handout One: Sample Needs Assessment Questionnaire
  • Software to create pamphlet
  • Handout Two: How to Make a Successful Phone Contact


  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set: Ask, "How aware of nonprofit organizations are people in your community?" Tell the students that they are going to create a survey to find out how much people really know. Have them each write five questions that will reveal whether people understand and are aware of the local nonprofits and the work they do. Allow the learners five to seven minutes to complete this task.

  2. In groups of 3-5 students, have the learners read the questions in Handout One: Sample Needs Assessment Questionnaire. Their group task is to develop ten questions they would ask in a survey. They may use no more than five questions from the sample survey. The information gathered in the survey will determine how aware community members are of the nonprofits and issues in the community and potential service opportunities to address the needs.

  3. Using a piece of large chart paper for each group, tell the learners to write down the ten questions they have chosen. They post their charts on the walls for all to read.

  4. The students walk around, read all of the charts, and put check marks by the ten questions that they think are the most important. The questions that have the most checks by them will be the ten that are used in the questionnaire.

  5. Reflection Activity Learners react to the following prompt in their journals: I think that I will find out from my surveys that ________ because ____________.

    Instructor’s Note: Before Day Two, type up and distribute copies of the top ten survey questions.

  6. Day Two:

    Give each small group several copies of the survey questions. While in their groups they are to each list the names of five people to whom they are going to distribute the questionnaire. Adults in the school building may be selected as respondents. The groups should share their ideas with the whole group, so no one person is surveyed by more than one person. Surveys are to be distributed, collected, and returned Day Three.

  7. Tell the students that the information collected in the surveys will give them information to inform the interview in the next activity.

  8. Still in Day Two, students may prepare to interview a representative from a local nonprofit. Students may work in groups of two or three to prepare for the interview.

    • Decide what organization they will learn about (see Lesson One) and read as much as possible about its mission, origin, and work.

    • Start thinking about how they will tell people in the community about the featured nonprofit or foundation, its mission, and possible volunteer opportunities (poster, pamplet, social media).

    • Make a phone call or send an email to request a phone, email, or in-person interview.

    • Schedule the interview sessions for Day Five.
  9. Pre-interview Reflection: What do you know about the organization? What can you do tonight to prepare for the interview?

  10. Day Three:

    Each group reviews their collected surveys and tallies the results in a meaningful graphic or chart. They write a summary of what community need is identified by the surveys (people aren't aware of issues or what a nonprofit is).

  11. Student groups use the collected information to write some questions to ask the representative from the nonprofit they plan to interview.

  12. Student groups may continue to plan the information content and format to be shared with the community to raise awareness of nonprofits in general or the nonprofits they interview.

  13. Lead the class in combining the data from all of the surveys into a total class needs assessment.

  14. Discuss with the class what they discovered their community really knew about foundations and nonprofits. Develop a list of areas that the community really needs to know more about (volunteer opportunities, definitions of nonprofits, services provided, who is eligible to get assistance, location, times of operations, how they are financed, who is on the board, what percentage of the funds collected are distributed).

    Reflection Activity: Ask learners to write in their journals two questions they think another group may ask.

  15. Day Four:

    Anticipatory Set: Students may have a day of practicing or editing their interviews before they conduct them with the nonprofit or foundation representatives.

  16. Give each group the scoring Rubric (Handout Four: Rubric for Paper On Foundations and Nonprofits) to guide them in their essays.

  17. With ten minutes remaining in the class session, call the class together and have two students model an interview. Use Handout Two: How to Make a Successful Phone Contact.

    Reflective Activity: Have the learners respond to the prompt, “I believe that our group will be able to provide information relevant to the findings in the survey because….”

  18. Days Five-Seven

  19. The students conduct their inteviews and write a summary.The complete interview is to be written into an essay form of no longer than three pages. Learners will also submit for evaluation that portion of the interview they conducted.

  20. Describe to the class the paper size and design format that is preferred. It is encouraged that the class decide formatting. Review the elements to be included in their pamphlet or communication.

  21. Allow sufficient time for peer editing.

  22. After completion of the interview process and writing assignment, schedule presentation times.

    Reflection Activity:Journal entry which evaluates the lesson’s efficacy of the unit and service experience.

    Demonstration: Schedule the counseling staff and/or media center staff member to come to your class and have your learners present the information. Publish the communication in appropriate places to reach the targeted community audience, such as putting pamplets at the library, posting messages on a community website, or doing a presentation at a local group.


Evaluate the questions developed by each per group. Instructor observation of peer group activities. Evaluate reflection activities. Completion of surveys and evaluation of data. Evaluate individual interview questions as submitted in essay form with foundation or nonprofit representative. Evaluate the entire essay based on the interview using Rubric (Handout Four: Rubric for Paper On Foundations and Non- Profits). Evaluate portion of pamphlet produced by peer groups.

Cross Curriculum 

The learners will conduct a needs assessment to determine community awareness of foundations and nonprofit organizations. Based on these findings and evaluation of the data, the learners will arrange for and conduct an oral interview with the director of a foundation or nonprofit of their choice. They will compile their findings in essay form, to be combined later into a philanthropy pamphlet. The learners will design a pamphlet of foundations and nonprofit organizations their local community can access. The pamphlet will be placed in the counseling offices, library and local community center.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify specific learning objectives from the academic core curriculum that are being applied in the service-learning project.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Build a case for giving, explaining why resources (volunteers and money) are needed.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.
    5. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.