Defining Philanthropy—What? Where? Why?

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is to have students differentiate between various philanthropic organizations.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • select five different philanthropic organizations to research.
  • define "Mission Statement" as a single statement that identifies the organization, who the organization serves, and the purpose of the organization.
  • identify the "mission" of each of the five organizations chosen.
  • compare and contrast the five different philanthropic groups.
  • prepare a presentation about their chosen organizations and present to the class.
  • List of possible philanthropic organizations for research (see Attachment One).
  • Computers with Internet access (five to six) and/or print materials from various service organizations.
  • Poster board, markers, overhead markers, or other materials to help students with presentations.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Tell the class, "Your mission, which you must accept, is to research organizations suspected of being philanthropic and to discover their purpose for existence. To do this, you will use a computer to search the World Wide Web. Good luck!" (Play the theme music from Mission Impossible! for added effect.)

  2. Divide the students into groups of three to four students. Each group of students will select five philanthropic organizations to research.

  3. Discuss with students the term "mission statement". This can be a brainstorming activity or simply instructional in nature.

  4. Student cooperative groups will conduct an Internet Web search (where possible) of the philanthropic organizations they selected. In the event that computer access is not practical, most local chapters of philanthropic organizations have print materials that are available at no cost. You will need to contact these organizations prior to beginning this lesson.

  5. Students will locate information that includes the mission statement, goals, and activities of each organization being researched.

  6. Students will make a chart on poster board that shows the following information:

    • Name of the Organization
    • Mission Statement
    • Goals
    • Activities
  7. Students will display their chart and give a brief presentation to the class.


Students will be evaluated on the accuracy of the information that appears on the chart/poster prepared for their presentation.

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. 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. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss examples of civil society organizations from a list of categories of organizations.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Identify and describe how regional civil society organizations help the people in the region.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and describe civil society organizations whose purpose is associated with issues relating to "human characteristics of place."