Past Acts of Philanthropy

3, 4, 5

Participants become familiar with philanthropy-related terms and a variety of philanthropy in the past. We consider the impact of people who contribute in large and small ways to the health of the community.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session
  • Define vocabulary related to philanthropy.
  • Identify philanthropic acts from the past related to current interests.

Philanthropy Timeline on the Learning to Give site


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell two stories of philanthropy that impact your community - one big and well known financial contribution (a prominent building with a philanthropist's name) and one small and common act of generosity (bringing meals to someone who had a loss). Discuss which act of philanthropy is more important. Challenge the group to listen to other points of view and explain their own thinking.

  2. Review the four types of service - direct, indirect, advocacy, and research - and identify what type of service the above examples are. 

  3. Talk about the many services and places in our community that are available because of philanthropy. Philanthropy fills needs that are not addressed by the government or business. Give examples, such as libraries, food pantries, parks, families supporting each other, museums, and public art.

    Introduce the Vocabulary Worksheet (handout below). Discuss correct answers and local examples. Answer Key: 1--C, 2--B, 3--E, 4--H, 5--A , 6--F, 7--D, 8--G

  4. Share the link to the philanthropy timeline and give participants time to review the many acts of generosity displayed over time. 

    Each person selects 2-3 events from the timeline that spark their interest. They copy the information on a page labeled "Past Philanthropy." They write a reflection about each one answering the following questions: What issue does this act of philanthropy address? What type of service is it (from the four types)? What is the current status of this issue? 

    Save this page for lesson four.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Define philanthropy and charity.
      3. Benchmark E.4 Define and give examples of selfishness and selflessness.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify one local citizen who has helped the community through giving and/or service.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define and give examples of civil society sector corporations.
    3. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name examples of civil society organizations in the community.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.