Where Did it all Start? In the Beginning

6, 7, 8

To increase students' understanding of philanthropy by tracing the origin and history of a nonprofit organization.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo 60-Minute Class Periods

The learnerwill:

  • select one of the five service organizations from the previous lesson for further investigation.
  • organize the activities of the selected organization chronologically.
  • Pencil, paper
  • Print materials (Almanac, telephone book, text, pamphlets, etc.)
  • Computer.
  • A timeline of major philanthropic events is available at /resources/philanthropy-timeline
  • Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History. Touchstone Books, 1991. ISBN: 067174271X. 
  • Hirsch, E. D., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993. ISBN: 0395655978.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask the class, "How many of you could describe one of your philanthropic organizations using ten important details? Seven? Four?"

  2. This lesson is an extension of the previous lesson. Each student will be asked to select one of the philanthropic organizations they researched for their chart in the previous lesson.

  3. The students will continue to investigate the organization selected but in more detail.

  4. Using the Internet and/or print materials (Almanac, telephone book, text, pamphlets, etc.), students will gather information about their philanthropic organization. This information should include:

    • The date the organization was founded.
    • The history of the organization.
    • This should include the founders, the history of the organization's growth, a chronological listing of events or activities of the organization, and milestones in the history of the organization.
    • Goals of the organization.
    • The location of the organization's headquarters
    • Where the organization is active: locally, nationally, internationally
  5. In small groups or in pairs, students research a philanthropic organization and parallel events in history that link them together. Students will prepare a written outline of the information gathered. The instructor should define the time period that will be used (e.g., U.S. History from 1900-1995). The following examples could be used:

    • Shortly after the beginning of WWII (1941), the Red Cross established its blood donor program in the U.S.
    • The beginning of WWII also marked the beginning of the USO in the United States.

All six categories of organizational research ("Using the Internet" bullet and its five subcategories above) are adequately completed. Linkage to historical event(s) firmly established. Topical Outline is logically constructed and complete.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. 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. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how a specific civil society organization in the community operates.