Section 1
What in the World is Philanthropy?
Philanthropy Word Association
60 minutes
  • Paper, pencils, and clipboards
  • Flipchart and markers
Physical Setting
Large room
  • 5 minutes for an introduction
  • 5 minutes to practice the interview questions
  • 20 minutes for the “People on the Street” interviews
  • 10 minutes to list the words people used
  • 10 minutes to review the definition of philanthropy and compare words used
  • 10 minutes reflection

Using interview techniques and a “Person on the Street” format, participants will discover how much their peers and family know about the word “philanthropy”.


  • To begin to discover what others think about the word “philanthropy”
  • To list the words and actions that people associate with the word
  • To practice interview skills


The facilitator explains to the participants they are going to be roving reporters. They will interview either family members or their peers in school, church or a youth group. The question they will be asking is: “What does the word “philanthropy” mean to you?” The facilitator reviews the Interview Sheet with all participants.

Participants can interview individually or as a pair. The interview sheet handout will be used and the goal is to record the responses of at least three (3) people. This could easily be a take-home activity. For the benefit of the participants, the facilitator reminds them of several definitions of the word philanthropy:

After participants have conducted their interviews, they are asked to share the responses with the other participants and the facilitator posts them on a flip chart or whiteboard. Participants are asked to see if any of the responses they received appear in any of these definitions of the word philanthropy. 

  • The giving of one’s time, talent, or treasure for the sake of another or for the common good.
  • Voluntary giving, voluntary service, and voluntary association, primarily, for the benefit of others.
  • A desire to help mankind as indicated by acts of charity; love of mankind.
  • Thoughtful, intentional, and ongoing giving of your time, talent, and treasure for the common good.


  1. What did most people think about the word and what it means?
  2. Were you surprised at the number of matches (or no matches) when you compared the words in the definitions and the responses people gave you during the interviews?
  3. Why do you think so many people knew the word? Or did not know the word?
  4. Before today, what has been your experience with the word philanthropy?
  5. On a piece of paper, write your definition for “philanthropy” in your own words.