Photo of Philanthropy (A)

3, 4, 5

Students will define philanthropy and recognize philanthropic activities within the home, school, community, state and nation. Students will identify examples of philanthropy in literature.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne to Two Thirty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify a key idea in literature that is reflected in every day life.
  • define philanthropy.
  • recognize philanthropic deeds within self and others.
  • identify nonprofit organizations as important parts of the giving community.


  • 3 x 5 Index cards
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  • Drawing paper for each student
  • Newspapers or magazines located at home

Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students, with the help of parents, will locate a newspaper or magazine article that exhibits a philanthropic activity. Students will explain to parents why their article is an example of philanthropy and present their picture and explanation to the class.


Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius. New York: Puffin Books, 1985.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Form teams of two players. On a 3 x 5 card each team should write what they think is the definition of the term philanthropy. During this time the teacher should write the correct definition (giving of time, talent, and treasure, and taking private citizen action for the common good) on another 3 x 5 card. Collect all cards, including the teacher’s. Read each definition aloud from the cards, letting students raise their hands to vote on which is the correct definition. Announce the correct answer.

  2. Brainstorm and discuss in detail the meanings of:

    • time: (n) A continuous period measured by clocks, watches and calendars; the period or moment in which something happens or takes place
    • talent: (n) The aptitude, disposition, or characteristic ability of a person
    • treasure: (n) Hidden riches; something regarded as valuable
    • common good: (n) Involves individual citizens having the commitment and motivation to promote the welfare of the community (even if they must sacrifice their own time, personal preferences or money) to work together with other members for the greater benefit of all.
    • give: (v) To make a present of, to bestow; to donate or contribute; to put into the possession of another
    • share: (n) A part or portion given to or by one person: one of equal parts; (v) to divide or distribute portions
    • volunteer: (n) One who offers himself for a service of his own free will
    • nonprofit organization: (n) any not-for-profit organization that is not associated with any government or government agency
  3. Make connections with students’ involvement in philanthropy, whether individual, family, school, community, state, or national levels. Make sure examples are given of all levels, including the nonprofit sector of the economy.
  4. Using guided reading, read Miss Rumphius. Discuss her display of philanthropy for the common good.
  5. Ask students to depict their understanding of philanthropy by drawing a picture of “philanthropy in action” and explain the meaning of their picture in a short paragraph, making sure to use the definition of philanthropy in their writing. Have students share the pictures and paragraphs orally with the class.
  6. Give directions for school/home connection project.

The picture and paragraph will serve as an assessment for the lesson.

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. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name and recognize the civil society sector as a separate part of the community.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
    3. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.1 Explore and research issues and present solutions using communication tools.