Charity Begins at School

Objectives & Outcomes

The students will be able to analyze the needs of a charitable organization, and then design and plan an imaginary and creative event/program to raise funds for the organization.

Materials Needed

Access to the Internet or other resources to research charitable organizations, display boards, Power Point program or other needs for students’ classroom presentations

Prepare ahead of time:  Example of recent fundraisers held by charities to raise money for various needs.


Opening to Lesson

  • As students walk into the classroom, the teacher will hold out a container asking students for small donations for a charity. (Tell each student to remember what they give.  This is in order to return the money later.)
  • Ask students how they feel about charitable giving and if any of them have ever been involved in a fundraiser, even by volunteering or giving.
  • Allow responses and discuss the different events.

Body of Lesson


  • Display some of the events the students mention
  • Ask students which of the events would probably raise the least or most amount of funds
  • Ask students which one sounds like the most or least fun
  • Ask students: What would you change about each event?
  • Allow for responses. Tell students they will be creating a fundraising event.

Guided Practice

  • Distribute the prepared rubric for the assignment
  • Assign students in pairs.
  • Go over the rubric checklist and answer any questions students may have about it
  • Tell students the fundraiser can last no longer than 3 days, but must last at least one day.
  • The students will then use the Internet or other resources to choose a real charitable organization to discover their needs.
  • The students must decide on a fundraising goal and time frame
  • Encourage students to be creative with their ideas
  • Next, the students will spend time designing and planning a fundraiser to reach the goal.
  • The students must create equations for number of participants expected, donated money, etc., and how the goal will be accomplished
  • The expenses must also be considered, volunteers needed, etc.
  • Communication of the fundraiser to possible participants
  • Finally, the students will be required to present all information, ideas, and other data to the class during a presentation

Independent Practice

  • For homework, have students write a short essay about the experience, what they learned and why it is important to plan ahead for events such as fundraisers.


Allow students to share some of their homework responses.  Ask students what some of the obstacles might be in having fundraisers.

Assessment & Evaluation

Rubrics to determine the students included the details needed in planning the event, presentation, etc.

Modification & Differentiation

Students do the research individually or in larger groups.  Use local charitable organizations.  Allow the class to pick the best fundraiser and follow through with it as a school event.  Have students write letters to the charitable organization outlining the idea.  Increase or decrease the time limit of the event.


Life Lessons: 7 Ideas for Teaching Kids About Charity

In our digital age, kids and teens are often profiled as self-consumed and in need of near constant instant gratification. As teachers, we know this stereotype is simply too flat. Our students have incredible potential for giving and kindness when it is both taught and expected, and we can develop or strengthen their empathy muscles though teaching kids about charity. While charity is usually thought of in dollar signs, there are options that don’t require students digging into piggy banks and couch cushions to offer support to others.

To Begin

Ask students to picture a philanthropist, someone who works in the welfare of others typically through donations – who do they see in their minds? Older students may have visions of Oprah or have heard a bit about Bill and Melinda Gates and their annual letter. For younger students especially, it may be helpful to open with a related read-aloud like Strega Nona’s Harvest or ask a parent or school volunteer to share their experiences giving time or money to a charity of their choice. Share with students that anyone can give and that there are many ways to do so.

Creating Context

In the age of Marie Kondo, students may have seen or even helped their parents downsize belongings and eventually donate a local thrift store. They may have heard about a recent natural disaster or crisis locally or in another part of the world. Ask students, “How can sharing with others improve our community and the lives of others?” and “What are ways we can give or time or money to benefit people in need?”

Exploring Options for Giving

Whether your students are young or old, we’ve rounded up seven simple charity activities to help instill a sense of compassion and giving with students.

Hair Donations

Hair donations are a no-cost option for students to contribute to wigs for children and adults suffering from alopecia, the radiation or chemotherapy associated with cancer, or hair loss from other medical conditions. There are six major organizations known for hair donations and most organizations require at least eight inches for donations, so your students may need to commit to preparing for this method giving for a sustained period of time. You can also explore local options and connect with local cancer charities to learn if there are community options.

Food Banks

As one of the more traditional modes of giving, food bank charities can be an especially simple way to introduce students to giving. Most kids are aware that food is an absolute need and that not everyone goes to sleep with a full belly every night. Food charities are often thought of seasonally, especially around Thanksgiving and winter holidays, but help students understand that hunger is an ongoing issue for many kids and families by running regular non-perishable food drives.

Pet Shelter Needs

Most kids love animals of all shapes and sizes. Students can raise money to buy new pet items, but in most cases, shelters will take gently used items that pets may have outgrown like collars, carriers, and sometimes even toys. Shelters have other operational needs too, like hand sanitizer, heating pads, blanks, and towels. Check with your local shelter to understand their unique and current needs.

Senior Center or Retirement Home

There is incredible value in young people providing quality time and companionship to seniors. Help students learn and practice communication and interview skills by pairing them with a buddy to explore personal experiences, favorite hobbies, or skills, and maybe even find a few common interests. Create the Good offers a helpful guide for preparing for visits.

School Donations

At many high schools, the senior class leaves behind a gift to the school – something to make their mark meaningfully. Giving back to the school community as a 5th, 8th, or 12th grader is a no-brainer for students who have enjoyed the educational experience built by their teachers, classmates, and school administration. Have students brainstorm what would leave a lasting impression – does the campus need new gym equipment, something as simple as a plant a small vegetable garden, or maybe a buddy bench for the playground? Your students will certainly have opinions and ideas for what the school needs.


Books, especially the acts of weeding and giving away books, can be a sentimental matter. If your students or their families have like-new copies they’re willing to part with, some libraries accept donations. Not all donated books end up on your library’s shelves though – they have to be evaluated by a librarian who decides if the permanent collection could use this particular read. Often donated books end up at Friends of the Library sales, which raise money to cover for other needs the library may have. Check with your local branch – they’ll point you and your books in the right direction.

Children’s Hospital

Students sometimes have experiences with friends or family who are facing medical challenges or can perhaps just more easily relate to to the difficulties of missing school or feeling sick for a prolonged period. Each hospital will have a giving and donations policy listed online – be sure to do your research as some accept new toy donations while others prefer monetary giving or have particular “wish list” items they’re hoping to receive.

An Easy Philanthropy Lesson Plan

After sharing a few ideas for giving like those above, ask students to research and select a charity they’d like to support. Explain that students are going to work on a persuasive project to urge their classmates (and perhaps their parents or the adults in their lives) to encourage giving to their focus charity. Students can either write a speech, design a poster, or craft a tri-fold handout.

Have students draft SMART goals to being planning for their giving:

Specific – What exactly do I want to happen for my charity? (How much money would I like to raise?)

Measurable – How will I know when I am reaching my goal?

Actionable – What actions will my classmate and/or I take to achieve my goal?

Realistic – Why is my goal important and what plan will I need to follow to reach it?

Timely – When do I plan to reach my goal?

Then ask students to think about how they plan to convince their classmates that their charity is worth supporting.

After each student has presented their plan to the class, ask your students to reflect on what charities caught their attention.

  • Would they be interested in supporting that organization or cause in the future?
  • Are students interested in giving to this charity once or regularly? Why?
  • What are some steps students could take to make these giving projects come to life?

Tips for Teaching Kids About Charity

It’s never too early to teach your children the value of empathy, volunteering, and charitable giving of one’s resources. You are your child’s best example and as Mary Gordon, the founder of Roots of Empathy, reminds us, “Empathy is caught, not taught.” She goes on further to explain:1

“Teaching children emotional literacy and developing their capacity to take the perspective of others are key steps towards collaboration and civility; they are indispensable steps towards preventing aggressive and bullying behaviours. As children develop empathy it seems to come ready-made with courage and imagination. Children understand marginalization and issues of social justice in a clear and uncluttered way.”

Teaching kids about charitable giving and empathy is rewarding for the whole family. Below are four tips to get you started in your lessons.

Introduce Empathy at a Young Age

When talking about interaction with other people, parents should dicsuss the concept of empathy with their children as soon as possible. Very young children often don’t realize that other people have feelings, ideas, and emotions of their own. You can help children along in the following ways:

  • Talk about how others feel: (Sarah is feeling sad because she lost her toy, should we go and get her another one?)
  • Suggest how to help others: (Let’s go get Billy a bandaid for his scraped knee, he would feel better if we help.)
  • Read stories about feelings: (The Little Book of Big Feelings by Marzi Wilson or My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss.)
  • Teach self-awareness by using “I” statements: (I don’t like it when you kick me. It hurts and makes me feel sad.)

By the time they turn three, children begin to understand and respect the fact that each and every person has feelings. Knowing that other people have a life and feelings of their own, children can begin to develop and hone a sense of empathy. This capacity for empathy is the very basis for charity.

Set a Good Example

It’s important for parents to create a family environment where giving is natural and encouraged. It’s good for children to see their parents donating charitably and, just as important, to see what a privilege it is for their parents to be able to give.

Include your children in your own volunteer or charity activities.

  • Let them see you dropping money into charity boxes.
  • Encourage them to help you pick out canned foods during a food drive.
  • Let them tag along when you participate in a walk for a cause you care about.
  • Encourage them to help you write cards to the elderly.

Each time your child sees you giving to charity, it reinforces good behavior and gives you an opportunity to explain why it’s important to give and how rewarding charity can be.

Explore All the Different Ways to Give

There are over 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the U.S. alone. provides a user-friendly way to sort and browse charities that may interest you.

Some of their top charity categories include:

  • African American
  • American Indian
  • Animal & Animal Protection
  • Blind & Visually Impaired
  • Cancer
  • International Relief & Development
  • Hunger
  • Peace & International Relations
  • Women’s Rights
  • Youth Development

There are many ways a child can learn the value of giving and plenty of volunteer ideas for kids. Setting up a charity box in the home can show how even a little bit of money can make a difference when given with a good heart. Encourage the donation of old toys, school supplies, and clothing to other needy children.

It’s also a good idea to teach your little ones that donating time is often just as powerful as donating money and things. Take the whole family for an outing serving dinner at a local soup kitchen or make a habit of keeping a basket of fruit or snacks in the car to give to hungry people in need.

Involve Children in Volunteer and Charitable Activities

It’s easier for younger children to understand more direct and concrete examples of charitable giving. They know they love their favorite toys, so you can explain to them that not everyone is fortunate to have toys to play with.

Likewise, you can help them set up a charity box to which they can contribute part of their allowance or loose change. Making philanthropic donations a regular activity around the house will reinforce charitable values in your children’s lives.

Key Takeaway:

It’s especially important to teach youth that they are part of a larger community and that everyone is responsible for those around them. By giving the value of charity a central role in the family dynamic, you encourage your child to grow up with a healthy sense of compassion and a strong charitable spirit.