To the Rescue

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners will analyze why nonprofit organizations are needed, especially when there are for profit and governmental institutions which do some of the same work. They will investigate an international and a local nonprofit which work to alleviate poverty in the community and describe the importance of philanthropy in the community.

PrintThree Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe the work of organizations which work to alleviate poverty.
  • speculate on the need for government, for profit organizations and nonprofit organizations to cooperate in the fight against poverty.
  • promote philanthropy and the work of nonprofit organizations.
  • teacher copy of the handout, Work of the Salvation Army
  • student copies of the handout, 24-Hour Homeless Experience
Home Connection 

None for this lesson.

  • Hidden in America. Martin Bell, Director. Hallmark Home Entertainment, 1996. ASIN: 157492463X


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Put the words “for profit” and “nonprofit” on the board. Review the meaning of the terms.

  2. Have the learners design a checklist for what an effective nonprofit or for-profit organization should do for the persons it serves.

  3. Take the learners to the computer lab or media center. Allow learner teams of two to research two organizations that help people experiencing poverty. Their assignment is to discover:

    • who founded the organization;
    • what incident/situation caused its start;
    • the type(s) of service provided;
    • who in the community it serves;
    • the number of people served;
    • its effectiveness in doing its work (use the checklist developed by the class).

    Have the teams report on the information they gained.

  4. Put the term Salvation Army on the board. As a whole group, have the learners brainstorm what they know about the organization. Have several volunteers copy the information on to the board as volunteers give answers. When no more information is forthcoming, determine if the organization is a for-profit or nonprofit organization. Using Work of the Salvation Army, give the learners an idea of the breadth of the work of the organization, especially the immense range of its work. Speculate on a mission statement for the Salvation Army. Go online on one of its Web sites and obtain its mission statement (which is different for each site but is basically similar).

  5. Ask the learners if any of the work of the Salvation Army is surprising. Have the learners explain. Ask the learners to speculate on why the Salvation Army needs to exist at all. Why isn’t the government (national, state or local) providing those services instead? (In many cases the services are being provided by both.) Have the learners speculate on the need for government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations to take part in such activities.

  6. Using the list of organizations researched above, select a nonprofit and invite a spokesperson from the organization to address the class about the work of the organization. Ask how the learners and others can aid the organization through their time, talent or resources. Discuss the feasibility of a class philanthropy project.

  7. As a culminating project for the lesson, divide the class into teams of two. Assign the completion of an informational brochure on a local nonprofit organization that works to alleviate poverty. The brochure should describe the work of the organization, including

    • a mission statement if it has one;
    • its status as a nonprofit organization;
    • the founding of the organization;
    • who in the community it serves;
    • the number of people served;
    • its effectiveness in doing its work.

    It should explain the importance of giving to the community and include an invitation to the reader to become involved in philanthropy through this organization or others.


The completed informational brochure may serve as an assessment of learning.

Cross Curriculum 

None for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Compare and discuss the interaction of families, business, government, and the civil society sector in a democratic society.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
      2. Benchmark HS.7 Explain why the civil society sector rather than the government or private sectors address particular economic areas.
    2. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and describe how civil society sector organizations help people nationally and internationally.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Identify and describe civil society sector organizations whose purpose is associated with issues relating to "human characteristics of place" nationally and internationally.