Section 1
What in the World is Philanthropy?
What We Have In Common
Up to 50 minutes, depending on the number participating
Physical Setting
Room enough for participants to form groups
  • 5 minutes for an introduction
  • 20-30 minutes for the activity
  • 15 minutes for processing and application

The activity can be used for two purposes: to have the participants begin to know one another, and to help explain the meaning of “the common good”.


  • To explore the meaning of taking action for the common good
  • To become better acquainted with the other participants in the group


The facilitator explains that in the definition of philanthropy we speak of the common good. In this activity we are going to explore what is meant by the common good. Post the following definition on a flip chart or whiteboard.

DEFINITION: Thoughtful, intentional, and ongoing giving of one’s time, talent, and treasure for the common good.

The facilitator asks the participants to group into pairs. The assignment is to identify things they have in common; things that are not obvious.

The pairs will have two minutes to identify everything they have in common.

Instruct one person to take notes as they name all the things they have in common. Example: They both have two siblings; they both like a certain kind of music; they both have or had golden retriever dogs.

An answer like: “We are both of the same gender” is obvious and not appropriate.  The facilitator keeps the amount of discussion time brief so the exercise keeps moving.

Have the pair with the most things in common share with the entire group. The pairs are then challenged to find another pair and form a quad. Again, the instruction is to find things that the four of them have in common in just two minutes. The quad with the most responses will share with the large group.

Depending on the size of the group, this exercise can continue on to form groups of eight, sixteen, etc.