501(c)(3):  The section in the US Internal Revenue Code (IRC) that describes charitable organizations exempt from federal income tax and eligible to receive tax-deductible gifts. The term 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization is often used.
509(a): The section of the IRC that further classifies public charities (as opposed to private foundations). A 501(c)(3) organization must also have a 509(a) designation to further define the agency as a public charity.
990: The tax exempt organization federal tax form required of most nonprofits annually, providing an overview of the organization’s activities, governance and detailed financial information.   A private foundation files a 990 PF.


Activism: Direct action by individuals or groups to support a cause and effect change, whether in a community or for the planet.
Advocacy: Supporting, defending, promoting causes to bring about change through actions such as writing letters, protesting, raising money, and communicating about the cause.
Affinity Group: A group with a shared interest, common goal, or acting together for a common purpose.
Annual Report: A formal update of a nonprofit’s operations, successes, growth, and finances during the past fiscal year. It is provided to donors, prospective donors and other supporters and is usually available on the website.
Application:  A proposal or request for grant funds sent by a nonprofit to a foundation or other potential grantor.
Articles of Incorporation: Formal documents filed with a government agency to create a corporation. Filing nonprofit Articles of Incorporation is the first legal step in forming a nonprofit corporation, and state requirements vary. This is very important for obtaining a tax-exempt status; and specific language is required by the IRS.
Assets: Something that contains economic value and/or future benefit, such as cash, investments, physical property like buildings or land, equipment, and inventory.
Assistance Grants: Grants provided to a nonprofit for operational or management assistance, such as for help with fundraising, legal, budgeting, and financial work. Grant support may also be offered to pay for an outside consultant’s services.


B-Corp: Aka Benefit Corporation. A for-profit corporate entity with a legal requirement to have a positive impact on society, workers, the community, and the environment in addition to profit.
Beneficiary: In the broadest sense, an individual or legal entity that receives money or other benefits from a benefactor when they die. For example, a nonprofit listed in a will that receives money or property from an estate.
Bequest: The gift of personal property under the terms of a will; a legacy.
Brand Identity All the visible elements of a brand that distinguish and identify your nonprofit or company in people’s minds, such as design, color, logo. This is the outward expression of your brand; how it looks and feels.
Bricks And Mortar: Another name for a Capital Campaign to finance major needs of an organization, such as new construction and building renovations.
Building Campaign: Another name for a Capital Campaign to finance major needs of an organization, such as new construction and building renovations.
Bylaws: An organization’s bylaws establish the internal rules for running the organization. They provide basic information and the policies, rules and procedures that govern the board of directors as they oversee the organization.


Campaign: A marketing effort, focused on a single objective, that takes place over a defined period of time. Common examples might include a public awareness campaign, a fundraising campaign, adopt an animal, #GivingTuesday, or end-of-year tax deduction fundraising events.
Capital Campaign: A targeted fundraising effort to finance major needs of an organization, such as a building or major renovation project.
Cause Alliance: Partnering a social, environmental, or economic cause with a brand and conducting combined marketing/outreach efforts on behalf of the partnership.
Cause Awareness Day: A day each year that is dedicated to raising awareness of a specific issue, such as Earth Day (April 22). Usually set by an organization or government. Many international days were established by the United Nations.
Cause Branding: A long-term partnership between a for-profit company and a social or environmental cause in order to raise money and awareness for both. The partnership attempts to create a permanent association between the brand and the issue for the consumer.
Cause Licensing: Licensing refers to a brand partnership that allows a for-profit brand to use a nonprofit logo and identity in the brand’s marketing. This can serve the purpose of raising awareness or money for a cause. In longer term licensing scenarios, the nonprofit commonly certifies or otherwise “vets” the brand’s cause efforts.
Cause Marketing: A form of corporate social responsibility, cause marketing is the cooperative effort between a for-profit company and a nonprofit cause to produce monetary and societal benefits for both parties.
Cause Partnership: Collaborations between for-profit companies and nonprofits, in which both benefit in terms of reputation, social responsibility, awareness, and often resources for the nonprofit.
Cause Promotion: A form of corporate social responsibility in which a for-profit company allocates resources to  raise awareness for a specific cause or to support fundraising. Management might urge its employees or customers to take part. A partnership with a non-profit organization is not essential. For example: a donation to the nonprofit with a purchase or redeemed label.
Cause Sponsorship: When a corporate partner provides resources to a nonprofit, cause or individual to help sponsor an event/activity and that involvement is promoted by the nonprofit, providing marketing value to the corporate partner. For example: A T-shirt given out at a nonprofit’s event that includes the corporate sponsor’s logo.
Cause Washing: A negative term describing cause marketing campaigns that lack authenticity or follow-through. For example, a manufacturer of bacon that creates a cause marketing campaign to stop obesity could face ridicule, as their product could be seen as contributing to obesity.
Challenge Grant: A grant that is made on the condition that the nonprofit first raises a required amount of money, either on a matching basis or via some other formula, usually within a specific period of time. The objective is to stimulate giving from additional sources.
Charity: A charity is another name for a nonprofit organization, established exclusively for public benefit. Its purposes are charitable and all monies raised must go towards achieving their aims. A charity cannot have owners or shareholders who benefit from it.
Community Foundation: A tax-exempt community organization that provides support for the needs of the geographic area or region where it is located. It maintains and administers funds on behalf of multiple donors and provides grants. Like other nonprofits, a community foundation also seeks support from the public.
Community Investment: A socially-responsible investment that puts dollars to work in the local community. The goal is to make a positive impact on the community, not just realize profits. Community investment takes many forms, such as providing loans to neighbors, investing in affordable housing, job creation, or essential services.
Community Relations: Community relations is a company’s effort to understand⁠ – and often support – the particular concerns of the communities impacted by the company’s operations.
Consumer Activation: Consumer activation is the act of delivering messages to compel consumers to engage in your cause. For example, they could be asked to vote for their favorite nonprofit, donate, or share a message on social media.
Consumer Activism: Consumer activism refers to efforts by members of the general public to influence a business’ operations, usually in reference to a political or social cause. Companies can drive consumer activism through cause marketing, which may help them to sell more products.
Corporate Citizenship: Corporate citizenship suggests that companies should behave responsibly within the communities they impact, among both internal and external stakeholders in their operations. Corporate citizenship efforts can take the form of donations to nonprofit organizations, volunteering, or internal mission statements that guide business ethics. See also corporate social responsibility.
Corporate Community Partners: A nonprofit or community organization that a business supports through corporate philanthropy, cause marketing, awareness-raising, or other efforts.
Corporate Contributions/Corporate Donations: Money or tangible goods given by a for-profit business to a nonprofit organization.
Corporate Foundation Grants: Gifts of money or tangible goods given to a nonprofit organization by a corporate foundation. They are usually tied to an expectation the nonprofit will execute a specific project or effort.
Corporate Foundation: This refers to either a private foundation controlled by a corporation, or a public charity associated with a corporation. Most corporate foundations are of the private foundation type, as they are created, funded and controlled by a single corporation.
Corporate Fundraising: Efforts by a company or its employees to raise money for a nonprofit cause.
Corporate Giving Program: A form of corporate philanthropy that facilitates charitable giving to nonprofit causes. Often driven by employee giving, the program can include employee volunteer grants, matching gifts, workplace giving, service-based donations, etc.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR is a business model that helps a company be socially accountable by incorporating social and environmental concerns into their planning and operations. Many companies are creating comprehensive CSR programs.
Crowdfunding: A way to generate small donations from many different people for a specific goal or project. This is commonly accomplished through platforms on the internet.


Decline: Also referred to as Denial, a decline is the refusal or rejection of a grant request. It does not mean necessarily that the proposal is a bad idea, but more often is related to readiness, timing, size or fit with foundation goals.
Demonstration Grant: A grant made to establish an innovative project or program that will serve as a model, if successful, and may be replicated by others.
Designated Funds: A type of restricted funding in which the fund beneficiaries and specific projects or purposes are specified by the grantors.
Disclosure requirement: Regulations requiring nonprofits to share with the public their three most recent IRS 990 forms, application for tax exemption, and other forms, as state laws specify. Many organizations include these documents on their website.
Discretionary Funds: These are unrestricted or broad purpose funds, where the donor gives discretion over the use of funds to the charitable institution.
Donation Acknowledgment Letter All donors deserve to be recognized, no matter the size of their gift. Use donor acknowledgement letters to show your gratitude and provide donors with important information they’ll need come tax season.
Donation Button A simple, eye-catching “Donate” graphic on your nonprofit’s website and on other virtual platforms is an easy way to encourage supporters to participate in online giving. The button links directly into the donation page.
Donation Matching A corporate giving initiative in which a corporation matches their employees’ (and/or or other donors’) contributions to a nonprofit. This is a way for donors to double (or even triple) their contributions to an organization.
Donation Page A donation page is a location on a nonprofit’s website through which people can give money to the organization.
Donation Pledges Pledges are a great way to secure consistent support over a prolonged period of time. Donors make a pledge or “promise to give” to show their deep connection to and support for an organization.
Donations in Kind: Goods or services donated to a nonprofit organization. For example furniture, clothing, products, meeting space, website development, stocks, etc.
Donee: An individual or organization that receives a grant or other donation.
Donor Acquisition The process of bringing new donors into your organization through marketing and networking strategies. This can be tracked through the number of first-time donors acquired within a given time.
Donor Advised Fund (DAF): Similar to a charitable savings account, a DAF is a giving vehicle established at a public charity. It allows a donor to make a charitable contribution, get an immediate tax deduction, and recommend grants from the fund over time.
Donor Communication An activity through which a nonprofit reaches out to current and potential donors. This can be by direct mail, email, social media, phone or in-person.
Donor Designated Fund: A designated fund that enables a donor to provide an ongoing, reliable and permanent stream of support for a particular nonprofit or community cause.
Donor Lifecycle: Describes the way in which nonprofits view and engage with their donors, helping them to attain, keep and nurture donors. There are three phases to the Donor Lifecycle: acquisition, retention, and upgrade.
Donor Management Software Donor management software is a platform that helps organizations understand and maximize their relationships with their donors. The software organizes donor data, identifies donor trends, and makes recommendations to increase the likelihood of receiving future donations.
Donor Retention Keeping a nonprofit’s donors engaged to prevent lapsing.
Donor Segmentation Separating a donor database into smaller groups in which members share similar qualities, such as age, type of donor, donor status, donation amounts, etc.).
Donor Upgrade The process of increasing a donor’s giving from one year to the next.
Donor: A person, organization or government that gives something voluntarily, such as a monetary grant.
Due diligence: Most often refers to the process through which a potential funder researches the financial and organizational health of a nonprofit prior to investing. This can also refer to the expectation that a board member exercises reasonable care and follows the business judgment rule when making decisions.


Embedded Generosity: Incorporating a charitable donation or initiative into the purchase price of a product. For example, a pet food company may promote that it donates $1 to an animal shelter for each bag of dog food it sells.
Endowment: A financial vehicle used by nonprofits to accept and hold gifts and bequests, in which the principal is maintained and invested in order to create a source of income for the nonprofit. More simply, it is a  pool of money that is invested to provide ongoing financial resources for the organization’s operations or for specific programs.
Evaluation: A review of the results of a grant, with the emphasis upon whether the grant achieved its desired objective.
Evidence-based Best Practices: Standard, published operating methods found to produce the best performance and results in a given industry or organization.
Excise Tax: Taxes paid on specific goods or activities, such as gasoline and betting. Also, IRC Section 4940 imposes an excise tax on the net investment income of most domestic tax-exempt private foundations.
Expenditure Responsibility: A foundation exerts all reasonable efforts and establishes procedures to make certain a grant is used for its stated purpose by the grantee, that full and complete reports are obtained from the grantee and submitted to IRS.
Extension: Sometimes a grantee is unable to complete the project or program for which it has received grant funds. In this situation, the organization should contact the foundation and request an extension to the grant period in order to allow additional time to complete the project or program.


Family Foundation: A private foundation set up by a family, funded with their assets and governed by family members. It can adapt as the family’s composition and charitable focus change and must meet all the same IRS guidelines for private foundations.
Field Of Interest Fund: A fund created within a community foundation to enable a donor to focus their charitable giving toward an area of interest, cause or nonprofits close to their heart. The donor relies on the foundation’s expertise to evaluate organizations and make grants.
Financial Report: An accounting statement detailing financial data, including income from all sources, expenses, assets and liabilities. A financial report may also be an itemized accounting that shows how all grant funds were used by a grantee organization.
Form 990: The tax exempt organization federal tax form required of most nonprofits annually, providing an overview of the organization’s activities, governance and detailed financial information. A private foundation files a 990 PF.
Funding Cycle: The sequence of activities involved in the process of awarding a grant. Generally beginning with a formal announcement of the availability of the funds and inviting applications with pre-set deadlines, there are three phases: Pre-Award, Award and Post-Award.
Fundraising Appeal The way in which a nonprofit organization asks for financial support from its donors. Either by direct mail or electronically, fundraising appeals are sent throughout the year – in particular on holidays and end-of-the-year – encouraging supporters to donate. Appeals are often used to raise funds for specific programs or projects the nonprofit is trying to get off the ground. They can also be general, sponsorship, corporate and online donation requests .
Fundraising Partnership: Fundraising partnership is a broad term that refers to any form of collaboration between a nonprofit organization and a for-profit organization to generate donations for the nonprofit organization. Cause marketing is one form of a fundraising partnership.
Fundraising: Fundraising is the act of generating donations to a nonprofit organization.


Gift in Kind/GIK: See Donations in Kind. Goods or services donated to a nonprofit organization. For example: furniture, clothing, products, meeting space, website development, stocks, etc.
Giving Pattern: The way a donor gives to charitable causes, in terms of how much, how often, to whom or what, and what vehicles are used.
Giving Platform: A giving platform refers to an online fundraising platform that allows safe and easy donations, such as Global Giving.
Giving Tuesday or #GivingTuesday: A global charity movement, Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. Kicking off the charitable season, the day celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy. Companies and nonprofits make a special effort to encourage charitable donations.
Government Funding: Funds or grants provided by local or national governments to a specific cause or nonprofit.
Grant Monitoring: Financial and staff supervision by the grantee of any grant-funded project in order to maintain a friendly relationship with the grantmaker, as well as to ensure an effective project.
Grant: An award of funds to an organization or individual to undertake charitable activities.
Grantee: The individual or organization that receives a grant.
Grantor: The individual or organization that makes a grant.
Grassroots Fundraising: Efforts to raise money from individuals or groups from the local community on a broad basis. Usually an organization does grassroots fundraising within its own constituency – people who live in the neighborhood served or clients of the agency’s services. Grassroots fundraising activities include membership drives, golf tournaments, raffles, bake sales, auctions, dances, and a range of other activities. Foundations often feel that successful grassroots fundraising indicates an organization has substantial community support.
Grassroots Marketing: Grassroots marketing refers to marketing efforts that encourage individuals to tell other people about a product or take collective action to support a cause. When done successfully, grassroots marketing programs reach a larger number of people than the organization could have reached by spending the same budget on a traditional advertising campaign.
Guidelines: A statement of a foundation’s goals, priorities, criteria, and procedures for applying for a grant.


Halo Effect: The tendency for positive impressions of a person, brand, product in one area to positively influence one’s opinion in another area. For example, a cause marketing campaign might be described as having a halo effect if it leads consumers to purchase more frequently from that business in the future, or report more positive impressions of that brand during market research.


In-kind Contribution: Goods or services donated to a nonprofit organization. For example furniture, clothing, products, meeting space, website development, stocks, etc. (See donations in-kind.)
In-Kind Sponsorship, Gift in Kind (GIK): In-kind sponsorship or in-kind gifts refer to any donations of goods or services, i.e. gifts other than cash. For example, a local business might offer free products as an in-kind donation that can be auctioned at an upcoming fundraiser. See also donations in kind.
Indemnification: A guarantee by an organization to pay board members’ legal costs for claims that result from board service.
Independent Foundation: Independent foundations are the most common type of private foundation. They are generally founded by an individual, a family or a group of individuals. They may be operated by the donor, members of the donor’s family, or by an independent board.
Intermediate Sanctions: Fines the IRS imposes when “disqualified persons” associated with a tax-exempt organization receive compensation or benefits that exceed the value of services, goods, or donations they have provided the organization. (IRC Section 4958.)
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a U.S. government agency responsible for the collection of taxes and enforcement of tax laws.
Invited Application: Some foundations today do not accept unsolicited proposals for their grantmaking and instead have Pre-application and Letters of Interest processes. After reviewing the submission, the foundation may then invite the organization to submit a formal application for funding. This process will vary by foundation and may not be necessary for some requests.


Jeopardy Investment: An investment that risks a private foundation’s ability to carry out its charitable purpose, or risks the foundation’s resources in an imprudent way.


Lapsed Donor A donor who used to contribute to an organization but has not donated within a specified amount of time.
Letter Of Intent (LOI): A letter or document declaring the preliminary commitment of one party to do business with another and setting out the details of a proposed agreement. Many foundations ask for a LOI before requesting a full grant proposal.
Leverage: An investment strategy of using borrowed money to increase the potential return of an investment. Also, a method of grant-making whereby an investment is made in a charity or other organization, with the express purpose of attracting funds or other support from additional sources.
Limited-purpose Foundation: A type of foundation that restricts its giving to one or very few areas of interest, such as higher education or medical care.
Loaned Executives: An individual who is appointed by his/her employer and “loaned” to United Way or the Combined Federal Campaign, etc., to assist in implementing an annual workplace giving campaign within businesses and organizations in the community.
Lobbying: An attempt by individuals or interest groups to influence government action through either written or oral communication.
LYBUNT & SYBUNT Reports Acronyms for donor activity reports that can identify lapsed donors, the difference is a matter of when. Once you know who has lapsed, you can begin to learn why they’ve stopped giving and ways to win them back.


Major Gifts Major gifts are the largest donations an organization receives within a single year. Major gifts make up the bulk of a nonprofit’s revenue each year.
Matching Gifts Program: A corporate giving initiative in which a corporation matches their employees’ (and/or or other donors’) contributions to a nonprofit.
Matching Grant: Grants that require an organization to raise a specified amount of new money and/or in-kind contributions, in order to qualify for the funding match. These are generally made by corporations, foundations and governments and can be set up for any level of match.
Multi-year: Refers to a grant in which a grantor agrees to provide funding for several consecutive years, often to support a program operated by a nonprofit organization.


Nonprofit Accounting Nonprofit accounting is essential to running a successful nonprofit organization. By finding nonprofit accounting software that meets the needs of your organization, you can accurately record and report every penny donated to your cause, making it easier for you to achieve your financial goals and carry out your mission.
Nonprofit Annual Report A formal update of a nonprofit’s operations, successes, growth, and finances during the past year. It is provided to donors, prospective donors and other supporters and is usually available on the website.
Nonprofit Board Of Directors The governing body of a nonprofit. The board is responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities, fulfilling legal duties, and serving as fiduciary of the organization’s assets. They meet periodically to discuss and vote on the affairs of the organization and contribute to the organization’s culture, strategic focus, effectiveness, and financial sustainability. In addition to state laws, the legal duties of nonprofit board members are defined as duty of care, the duty of loyalty, and the duty of obedience.
Nonprofit CRM A nonprofit CRM, or Customer Relationship Manager, is a software database in which a nonprofit can consolidate and store all information about its contact network. It enables the organization to see all of the relationships in one place, such as donor names, donation amounts and dates, notes on donor likes and dislikes, and volunteer information. It tracks vital information on the donor process.
Nonprofit Email Marketing A digital strategy that uses email to reach people who are current or potential donors. The messages typically communicate the community benefits of the nonprofit’s work; encourage some sort of action, such as donating to the cause; and build relationships with the audience.
Nonprofit Event Management All of the tasks involved in administering an event that benefits a nonprofit organization. For instance: selling tickets, promoting and sending information, handling all logistics, tracking attendee information, validating tickets, etc.
Nonprofit Grant An award of funds by a government, foundation or other organization to a nonprofit organization to undertake charitable activities.
Nonprofit Payment Processing Also called credit card processing or an online payment system, this is the processing of a donor’s financial information when they make an online transaction with a nonprofit organization.


Online Fundraising The use of the internet and mobile technology and software to raise money. For example, having a donation page on a nonprofit’s website that can be easily accessed via “Donate” buttons throughout the site.
Online Fundraising Software This is an online technology platform designed to help nonprofits raise money through the internet and mobile technology and to streamline the donation process.
Operating Foundation: These are private foundations that primarily operate their own charitable programs, although some also make grants. For example, they might operate a museum or a zoo. This is a legal classification under IRC Section 4942.
Operating Support: A contribution given to cover an organization’s day-to-day, on-going operating expenses, such as salaries, utilities, office supplies, etc.
Overhead Expenses: The administrative and fixed costs of running a business, such as rent, insurance and utilities, are considered overhead. Nonprofits should refer to the information in IRS Form 990 for the management, general and fundraising expense that apply, as accounting and regulations terms vary.


Pass-Through Foundation: The pass-through foundation is a private grantmaking organization that distributes all of the contributions it receives each year (not just the minimum five percent of assets). The pass-through election may be made or revoked on a year-to-year basis.
Payout Requirement: The federal requirement that foundations distribute five percent of their investment assets annually for charitable purposes.
foundations distribute 5 percent of their
investment assets annually for charitable
Peer-To-Peer Fundraising A fundraising effort in which peers reach out to each other to support a cause. For example, a nonprofit’s supporters reach out to their social networks to raise funds for the nonprofit (such as birthday fundraisers); or the organization empowers its donors to create personal fundraising pages and raise money on its behalf.
Philanthropy: Charitable giving to worthy causes on a large scale. This is an effort by individual or organization based on an altruistic desire to improve human welfare. The original Greek meaning is the “love of humanity.”
Pledge: A promise to make future contributions to an organization. For example, some donors make multi-year pledges promising to grant a specific amount of money each year. Pledges are usually binding promises to pay.
Post-grant Evaluation: To help a Foundation ascertain the impact of its grants, grantees are generally asked to submit a self-evaluation at the completion of the project. Generally, the evaluation will be submitted after the project is complete.
Preliminary Proposal: A brief draft of a grant proposal, submitted to ascertain if there is sufficient interest to warrant submitting a proposal.
Private Foundation: A non-governmental, non-profit organization with funds (usually from a single source, such as an individual, family or corporation) and programs managed by its own trustees or directors. The private foundation is established to maintain or aid social, educational, religious or other charitable activities serving the common welfare, primarily through grantmaking. U.S. private foundations are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are classified as such by the IRS, as defined in the code.
Proactive: A foundation may choose to make proactive grants, which means the foundation has determined an area of focus or cause it wishes to support and will fund it in order to achieve a specific outcome or result.
Program officer: A staff member of a foundation or nonprofit who is responsible for all aspects of the evaluation and distribution of their foundation’s grants. They may recommend policy, oversee program development, review grant requests, seek grants, manage the budget, ensure that programs align with organization’s mission.
Program Related Investment (PRI): A PRI is an investment (e.g. loan, equity investment, or financial guaranty) made by a foundation to pursue its charitable mission. The recipient can be a nonprofit organization or a for-profit enterprise. The foundation generally expects to receive its money back at a specified time, usually with below-market interest. The repayment or return of equity can then be recycled for another charitable purpose.
Public Charity: A nonprofit organization that is exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that receives its financial support from a broad segment of the general public.
Public Foundation: Public foundations are recognized as public charities by the IRS. Their primary focus is on grantmaking, though they may provide direct charitable services to the public as do other nonprofits.
Public Support Test: The IRS defines an organization as a publicly supported charity if it meets one of two tests: (1) The organization receives a substantial part of its support in the form of contributions from publicly supported organizations, governmental units, and/or the general public; and (2) The organization receives no more than one-third of its support from gross investment income and more than one-third of its support from contributions, membership fees, and gross receipts from activities related to its exempt functions. [See IRC 509 (a)]
Purpose Driven Organization: A term used to describe companies with a larger purpose than profit. Typically, this purpose is aligned with a specific social cause.


Query Letter: A brief letter of inquiry sent to a prospective donor, outlining an organization’s activities and request for funding, to determine if there is sufficient interest to warrant submitting a full proposal.


Racial Equity: Racial equity can be defined broadly as racial justice. It is the systemic, fair treatment of all people, no matter their race, resulting in fair opportunities and outcomes for everyone. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them. It is not just the absence of discrimination, but also the presence of values and systems that ensure fairness and justice.
Recurring Giving Regular, ongoing giving by a donor to a nonprofit organization, usually once a month.
Responsive: A foundation may choose to make responsive grants. These grants may also be called reactive, meaning the foundation is reacting to proposals/requests submitted by non-profits; these requests are generally unsolicited by the foundation.
Restricted Funds: Funds that must be used for a particular purpose, as the result of designated giving. They are permanently restricted to that purpose and cannot be used for other expenses of the nonprofit.
Results-Based Accountability (RBA): RBA, also known as outcomes-based accountability, is a management tool that starts with results and works backward to determine a means to achieving the results. The term implies that expected results (also known as goals) are clearly articulated, and that data are regularly collected and reported to address questions of whether results have been achieved.


Seed Money: A grant or contribution used to start a new project or organization.
Shared Value: Shared value describes a social cause or other value that is shared by a brand and their customers.
Site Visit: When a program officer or foundation staff member visits a grantee organization at its office location or area of operation and/or meets with its staff, directors or recipients of its services. This is generally conducted prior to a grant approval, as part of “due diligence” research.
Slacktivism: Supporting a cause with minimal effort, such as merely sharing a link on social media. Often used with the negative connotation that the individual is not supporting the cause in a meaningful way, such as donating their time.
Social Investing: The practice of aligning one’s investment strategy and policies with their social values. The goal of Socially Responsible Investing is to generate both social change and investment returns.
Social Return on Investment: The measurable impact of an organization’s operations on factors such as the environment, economy, and society. Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations can use social return on investment to deliver a holistic view of their operations.
Socially Responsible Business Practices: Socially responsible business practices are efforts by a for-profit organization to improve outcomes of its operations in relation to social, economic, or environmental factors.
Special purpose foundation: A private foundation that focuses its grantmaking activities in one or a few areas of interest.
Sponsorship: When an individual or organization has agreed to support an event through money or pledges.
Strategic Gifts-in-Kind: Donations of services or goods that are needed by a nonprofit and also advance a business’ goals. For example, donating basketball shoes to underserved youth may generate positive publicity for a shoe manufacturer or retailer.
Strategic Partnership: A partnership that advances the broad goals of both organizations. An example might be a toothpaste manufacturer that supports an organization promoting oral health.
Supporting Organization: This is a charity that carries out its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations, usually other public charities. This classification is important because it is one means by which a charity can avoid classification as a private foundation, a status that is subject to a more restrictive regulatory regime.  [Per the IRC Section 509(a)(3)]
Sustainability: Sustainability refers to whether an action compromises future environmental, social, or economic health. The term has been broadly applied to characterize improvements in areas such as natural resources overexploitation, manufacturing operations, consumption of products, the direction of investments, citizen lifestyle, consumer purchasing behaviors, technological developments, or business and general institutional changes.
Sustainable Value: An approach to assess and aggregate the value of social, economic and environmental resources in monetary terms. In other words, capturing the value created by implementing sustainability practices in a business or organization.


Tax-exempt Organizations: An organization that is exempt from paying federal corporate income tax on income generated from activities that are substantially related to the purposes for which the entity was organized. Qualifying organizations do so under one of 25 subsections of Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
Technical Assistance: A specialized skill or service that a nonprofit may need for its operations, yet may not possess in-house, and is often provided by a contracted specialist.
Text-To-Give: A fundraising method that enables donors to give to nonprofits via a text message on their mobile phone’s texting application.
Third Party Online Giving Platform: A third party online giving platform is a service that collects and tracks donations on behalf of a nonprofit. With these services, nonprofits can focus on core efforts within their community, rather than managing complicated financial transactions and credit card technology.
Tipping: Tipping occurs when a grant by a single private source (not a public charity or government) is large enough to bring a publicly supported charity’s public support percentage below the required minimum threshold. The charity is “tipped” out of public charity status and is reclassified by the IRS as a private foundation.
Transactional Cause Marketing: A one-off cause marketing campaign that links a sales campaign directly to a nonprofit. It generally includes an offer by the sponsor to make a donation to the cause with purchase of its product or service. There is no deep, long-term relationship between the participating nonprofit/cause, companies, and donors.
Triple Bottom Line: Triple bottom line refers to a revolutionary method of business accounting in which companies assess not only their financial performance but also the social and environmental impact of their operations. The three pillars of the triple bottom line are people, planet, and profits.
Trust: A legal device used to set aside money or property of one person for the benefit of one or more persons or organizations.
Trustee: A trustee is an individual who manages the assets in a trust and is responsible for administering the wishes of the grantor for the benefit of a third party. All trustee duties are distinctive to the specific trust agreement and directed by the type of assets in the trust.


Unrestricted Funds: Monies that may be used for any legal purpose appropriate to the organization.


Venture philanthropy: Venture philanthropy applies the principles of traditional venture capital financing to achieve philanthropic endeavors. Donors put their money and expertise into investments which promote some sort of social good, rather than being explicitly interested in profit. They provide support, involvement and expertise to the nonprofit and require accountability, similar to what venture capitalists do in business enterprises.
Voluntarism/Volunteerism: Freely giving one’s talent, time, and effort for the fulfillment of charitable, educational or other worthwhile activities. “Voluntarism” (an older term) refers to everything voluntary or not mandated by law, such as religion. Volunteerism speaks to anything relevant to people giving of themselves to help others or a charitable cause.
Volunteer Management All of the steps a nonprofit takes to recruit, track, engage, thank and retain volunteers.


Wealth Screening  A tool that fundraisers use to identify a donor’s financial capacity to give large donations. Indicators researched might include real estate ownership, stock ownership, and business affiliations, as well as past nonprofit giving and political donations.


Year-End Giving Letter Also known as a year-end donation letter, this is a fundraising appeal sent by nonprofits during the last several months of the year. The letter solicits donations from supporters during the holiday or “giving” season, a time when many people look to give to nonprofit organizations. This important part of a year-end campaign, the giving letter should work to reiterate a nonprofit’s mission, boost donor engagement, and ultimately increase revenue.
Disqualified Person: (Private Foundation) Any person who was in a position to exercise substantial influence over the affairs of the applicable tax-exempt organization at any time during the lookback period. Per the Internal Revenue Code, private foundations are prohibited from executing any financial transactions with disqualified persons. (See IRC Section 4946 and 4941.)
Disqualified Person: (Public Charity) Any person who was in a position to exercise substantial influence over the affairs of the applicable tax-exempt organization at any time during the lookback period. Per the IRC Sec. 509(a)(2), contributions from disqualified persons are not included in the public support test.
Self-dealing: Self-dealing is any transaction between a private foundation and a “disqualified person,” i.e., insiders of the organization. Foundations are prohibited from engaging in acts of self-dealing, except for a very few exceptions. (IRC 4941)