Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

The Power of Giving

Standard 14: Charitable Giving

Susan McHale, Kristen Sublett, Niky Styers, Melissa Gunter | Published: November 10th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Financial Literacy, Social Studies
  • Course Course Personal Financial Literacy
  • Time Frame Time Frame 150 minutes
  • Duration More 3-4 class periods


Students will identify organizations within the community that help people. Students then will discuss why people help one another and the impact of this on society. Finally, they will investigate a charitable organization, its founding, its current purpose, and its impact on society. This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning. Resources for use in Google Classroom are included.

Essential Question(s)

How do charitable organizations benefit the community? Do you have a responsibility to be charitable?



Students brainstorm and identify what they know about charitable organizations through a grouping activity.


Students probe their own beliefs about the responsibility of citizens to help others.


Students identify a charity of their choosing through suggested websites, then investigate a charitable organization in-depth.


Students read a news article about a charitable organization that may be unscrupulous in their use of donated funds. They learn to identify ways of verifying a charity's level of outreach.


Students create presentations on charitable organization and present to the class. Students also complete a 3-2-1 response as part of the evaluation process.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Charitable Organization Graphic Organizer (attached)

  • Six-Point Multimedia Presentation Rubric (attached)

  • Student devices with internet access


Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Begin with slide 3. Briefly, read aloud the essential questions: How do charitable organizations benefit the community? Do you have a responsibility to be charitable? Move to slide 4 and read aloud the lesson objectives.

Display slide 5 or list the following five organizations on a projector or whiteboard space:

  • The American Red Cross

  • The Salvation Army

  • The American Cancer Society

  • Wounded Warrior Project

  • St. Jude Children's Hospital

Without discussing anything about these organizations, ask the students to discuss (as a class) what these organizations have in common.

Display slide 6 and, without elaborating, ask students to pick ONE of the organizations listed and write down at least three things they know about that organization. Students should pick the organization that they believe they know the best. Once students have had time to do so, move to slide 7. Ask students to stand up and quietly find other students who picked the same organization as themselves. Once they are in groups, ask them the students in each group to share their ideas and compile a new list together.

Display slide 8 and invite each group to elect a spokesperson. Have each spokesperson read their group's list aloud. After all the lists are read, have students return to their seats.

Ask students to think again about what they heard about these organizations after reading the lists aloud. Now, display slide 9, and ask students what the characteristics of a charity are. Try to have students expand on their original responses with more elaboration. Through class discussion, create a working definition for the word "charity" or "charitable organization."

Establish with students that these are all charities or charitable organizations. Ask students how citizens like themselves can help these charities. If needed, lean more into your role as a teacher (rather than a guide) and make sure that students identify that citizens can contribute their time through volunteering, money, and gifts-in-kind (donations or services other than money given directly to the organization). You may wish to give an example of a gift-in-kind, as students may not be familiar with that vocabulary term. An example would be clothing donations to The Salvation Army or canned goods to a local food pantry.


Explain to students that the federal government allows qualified charitable organizations to have certain tax exemptions and that individuals who contribute to charities can get tax credits as well—this is intended to encourage charitable giving. Display slide 10 and pose the question shown there: Do we, as citizens, have a responsibility to help people who are in need? Allow students to raise their hands and give their opinions. Try to solicit a variety of opinions.

Display slide 11. Ask students to consider the following: if we believe that citizens bear some responsibility to help others who are in need, then how do we know if an organization is worthy of our charity, our time, gifts, and money? Have students reflect upon the list of charities that were originally on the board and think about their important characteristics. Brainstorm as a class a list of what information is important to research when investigating a charity.


Now, invite students to investigate charitable organizations more in-depth. Display slide 12. To investigate, students should choose a charitable organization that their group believes would be worthy of their help or support. Ask students to keep in mind that they will create a six-slide presentation to present their findings to the class. Divide the students into groups of three. Pass out a copy of the attached Charitable Organization Graphic Organizer to each student. Each team member should be responsible for their own note-taking.

Allow student teams to choose a charity that they feel is worthy of their help or support. You should evaluate each choice and consider whether or not to approve it. As a teacher, you have the option of having students research local and national charitable organizations to find a charity. Find more information about each type of charity in the note boxes below. Should you choose to have students research local charities, be sure to note the Guidestar website explained in the second note box, as it is mentioned in the PASS objectives.


Display slide 13. Ask students to consider the question, "Are all nonprofit organizations worthy of our time and gifts?" Show students the website Charity Watch. This organization rates charities according to the amount and percentages of direct services provided to people in need. Consider choosing a charity on Charity Watch's top-rated list to show students the charity's grade, the percentage of funds spent on charitable causes vs. overhead, and other info.

You may wish to check a few of the organizations that students researched to compare them on the site, and to give students an idea of what information is available on Charity Watch. Note that, even if a charity is not on the top-rated list and its rating and funding information is not available, you can search for it in the site's search bar (on the right-hand side of the site's header). The site features pages on many charities that include basic information and a number of external news articles about the charity that can be used for research. Note that Charity Watch utilizes a subscription model, and some information is only available through a paid subscription.

Have students research whether their organizations are listed on Charity Watch's top-rated list, and what rating it has been given. If the charity is not on the top-rated list, consider having students do additional online research on their charities for more information.

Invite each team to create a six-slide presentation with their findings (you can have students use Google Slides, PowerPoint, etc.). Team members should be prepared to present two slides each. Pass out a copy of the attached Six-Point Multimedia Presentation Rubric to each team. Answer any questions students may have about the scoring.

The rubric can serve as a guide for students to draw from as they create their presentations about their organizations. Students can email their presentations to you prior to the presentation day. You can also collect all presentations on an external USB drive or similar. If your school uses Google Classroom or Google Drive, students can create presentations using Google slides and submit these to a classroom Google Drive folder.

Have each group present its presentation to the class.


Display slide 14. Note to the class that presentations serve as an evaluation for this lesson, as well as the following 3-2-1 activity.

Display slide 15. Ask students to individually complete a 3-2-1 response activity after the presentations are completed. To do so, each student should, on notebook paper:

  • Write 3 statements about charities, in general, that they did not know before this lesson.

  • Write 2 names of charities that they saw in the student presentations that they believe are worthy of support.

  • Write 1 statement discussing why someone should or should not support charitable organizations.

This 3-2-1 activity can also be used as an individual evaluation.