Browse our Glossary for terms


Responsibility to someone or for something, for example non-profit organisation must account for the use made of the donors gift


Acknowledgement is something done or given as an expression of thanks. NPOs must acknowledge a donors donation, usually in the form of a letter.


The purchase or the receiving of goods or services, or the taking over of another organisation. NPOs also use this term for the building up of new donors on a mailing list.

Acquisition mailing

The mailing to prospects (see ‘prospect ‘) in order to acquire new donors or members for the organisation.

Alumni campaign

The fundraising campaign of an educational institution from former students.

Annual fund programme /annual appeal programme /annual giving programme
An organised effort by an NPO to gather regular support to cover operating costs.

Annual report

A yearly review of the activities of an organisation, usually containing the audited Income and Expenditure Statement, and Balance Sheet .The annual report sometimes describes plans for the year ahead. An NPO can use the annual report to list the names of donors for the past year.


A fixed sum payable at specified intervals over a period, in return for a premium paid in installments or in a single payment .An individual donor can arrange an annuity in favour of an NPO whereby the NPO gets equal payments from the donor over a fixed period.

Anonymous gift

For an NPO, this is a donation received without information about the donor’s name. a donor may also specifically request not to be named or acknowledged as the donor

Appeal letter

A letter that asks for a contribution to a cause.

Area of interest

The identified purpose towards which an individual corporate, foundation, trust or group intends to make a donation.


The The act of soliciting a donation.


An audit is an inspection, correction and verification of business accounts by a qualified accountant. For an NPO an audit is usually an objective evaluation of the procedures adopted by donor –supported organisations, or the evaluation of an NPO’s financial accounts, usually by an outside accounting firm.


A contributor of funds to an NPO (usually contributing large gifts or sponsorships).


An individual or organisation that benefits, in this context, from services of an NPO. The benefits could be in the form of funds or other supports, such as family counseling.


In this context, a special event for charitable purposes, with all income above costs being donated to an NPO or number to an NPOs.

Bequeath mailing

The act of giving personal property or resources in a will.


The transfer, by a will, of personal property, cash or securities to a named individual or organisation,

Board of directors /trustees /management /governors

A group of individuals elected, by constitution, to serve as the overseeing body of an organisation or institution.


Business Orientated NGO’s


An intensive, open, team discussion to solve problems or generate ideas.


A document or discussion that provides instructions and background information for a task.


A pamphlet or booklet, usually one containing summarised or introductory information or advertising. NPOs use brochures to provide information about themselves as organisations of a particular campaign.

Bulk mail

Large bundles of mail that the postal authorities post at a discount on the normal mailing rates.

Business reply envelope

An envelope which the receiver can use to reply to organisations sending the mail. NPOs can acquire a licence from the post office that allows the NPO to use a franked envelope with the printed address of the NPO. (Franked envelopes have a mark, which allows them to move through the postal system without a stamp.) It is customary for business reply envelopes to be franked.


An organised effort to solicit funds for an organisation, institution or project.


In the NPO context, to canvass is to raise funds, usually on a door-to-door basis.

Capital campaign

A fundraising campaign, usually lasting over several years, to raise substantial sum of money to finance a capital development, or equipment, or a special project, such as building.


Explanatory text accompanying a drawing or photograph.

Case statement

A carefully prepared document that sets out the detailed needs of an organisation, and why it should be supported. A case statements includes a survey of resources, and future plans.

Cash gift

In this context, the transfer of cash or currency to an NPO by a donor.


The ideals or objectives of an organisation, institution or programme for which an NPO will seek donor support.


Community Based Organisation (CBOs) are small organisations with very little access to skills or funding. They tend to be located in rural areas, urban townships and informal settlements, and are generally run by local people.


The Chief Executive Officer. Chairperson A person who presides over an organisation’s governing body, or over a committee, campaign or a debate. In an NPO, a chairperson often presides over a committee of volunteers.

Challenge gift

Sometimes donors contribute to an NPO with a challenge gift, and then challenge other donors to match their gift .A challenge gift is usually a substantial gift and is made on condition that it will stimulate other gifts, usually to a prescribed formula and over a specific time. Challenge gifts are used in capital fundraising campaigns. A donor will, for instance, give R 10 000 on condition that is an equal amount is matched by another donor. Corporate donors are beginning to use this technique. For example, a corporate donor will give money for the basic building materials for a crèche as long another donor, such as the community, provides an equal donation, either in sweat equity (labour) or through raising funds to meet the labour costs. In the USA this is a commonly used technique, and the challenge gift is more often a cash donation than an in-kind gift. Charity A private cause, organisation or institution set up to give help, money, or other services to the community, which it serves. A charity is funded by the support of donations, sponsorships and subsidies. The word emanates out of “Christian love of fellow men” (The Concise Oxford Dictionary). As a noun it has come to be recognised as, “an institution for helping the helpless”, and in the last fifty years has come to denote “hand out “ as opposed to “hand up” associated with the developmental processes.

Civil society

Is a term in common use today, describing all the activities by individuals or organisations in community. These include religious, cultural, social economic and political activities. A recent author offers this definition:” Civil Society describes the association in which we conduct our lives, and that owes existence to our needs and initiative rather than to the state. “(Ralf Dahrendorf-1995) Strong and active civil society organisations are needed for democracy and development, particularly in Southern Africa’s countries. This need comes from the frequent failure of state controlled or top-down approaches to development in communities. Emerging societies throughout the world are demonstrating the effectiveness of a bottom-up, or community driven, approach to development instead.


In an NPO the client is the individual, organisation or community that receives the NPO’s services .The client can, for example , be a group of children ,senior citizen, or even the environment . We sometimes also speak of the donor as a client, since the donor donates to the NPO with a specific aim in mind.


A set of numbers, or combination of letters and numbers, printed on a response piece or coupon, to identify its source.

Cold list

A list of prospective donors whose response has not previously been tested by the organisation.


In a fundraising context, an individual’s expression of support or corporate expression of support for an organisation, either through services or financial assistance.

Community chest

An organised community programme that makes annual appeals to the public and business, raising funds for distribution among local services agencies.

Computer mailing

A computer can be used to generate letters that consist of a standard text with personalisation of details like names and addresses for the various recipients. These letters are used for large volume solicitation by mail. We call this computer mailing.


In the NPO context, a constituency is the ‘family ‘ of an organisation. This family can consist of various groups, such as staff, alumni (ex-members of the organisation), members , donors, and users. Donations are usually raised from these categories in the constituency: individuals, corporates, foundations and other groups.


A specialist in one or more areas of business, who is hired by an organisation to provide advice, guidance and to solve problems, or who manages a campaign for a predetermined period.


Any person who uses, receives, or consumes goods and services.

Contingency fund

A fund established by the NPO using assets (usually money) put aside for the future. This fund is usually set up to protect the NPO from the possibility of decreases in donor support.


Any gift of money, equipment, property or services to an NPO.


One who makes a gift; a donor.

Control mailing

A mailing package with a known response performance is often used as a base for constructing a new mailing package. This kind of mailing is known as control mailing.

Corporate brochure

A brochure used by an NPO for a campaign directed specifically to potential donors in the corporate community.

Corporate foundation

A body constituted to co-ordinate the social responsibility or philanthropic activities of the founding corporation.

Corporate giving

A grantmaking programme established and controlled by a profit-making corporation or company.

Cost-to-income ratio

The comparison of the proportionate cost of raising funds compared to income, as a means of measuring the efficiency of a fundraising vehicle or campaign.


Corporate Social Investment


The process of developing the interest of prospective donors, through exposure to institutional activities, people, needs and plans.

Current giving

A programme reflecting gifts towards existing operations or projects of an organisation.


The basic element of information that can be processed or produced by a computer.


A collection of information specific to an operation or organisation. In fundraising, this usually refers to the information relating to the NPO’s donors.

Deferred gift

A gift to be received in the future, although the transaction containing the gift occurs in the present.

Deferred giving

A plan in which a donor makes a commitment to transfer something of value at a specific time, and which depends on a subsequent event, such as death or the maturation of an investment.


The science study of human populations, especially their size, distribution, and social and economic characteristics such as age, sex, marital status, education, and income typical of the population.

Designated gift

A donation ear-marked by the donor for a specific purpose.


In the NPO context, this term is used to define the total process of organisational or institutional fundraising.

Development committee

A volunteer committee of the board of an NPO, which has to oversee fundraising activities.

Development office

The organised division or department of an NPO responsible for all facets of its development programme.

Direct mail

Solicitation of funds by mail


Development Organisational NGO’s or Donor NGO


The individual, corporation, foundation or group that makes a gift to an NPO.

Donor acquisition

The process of identifying and obtaining donors.

Donor list

A list of contributors prepared for a particular purpose, or in conjunction with list building.

Donor profile

A description of basis information about an individual donor, compiled by means of research.

Donor recognition

The practice of recognising or acknowledging donors and their gifts by letter or various forms of public expression, for example, naming a room or building in honour of that donor.

Door-to-door solicitation

An activity in which volunteers go from house to house, explaining a cause, leaving literature, and asking for contributions. An example is the Salvation Army’s annual Door-knock Day.


Employee Community Involvement

Electronics funds transfer

(Usually a debit order)
A method by which donors instruct their banks to make direct payments from their accounts into accounts of charitable organisations.


Educational NGO’s


A show of support, usually by a public figure.

Endowment campaign

A campaign to obtain funds specifically for an organisation’s endowment fund.

Endowment fund

A special fund established to provide a permanent source of income to the NPO. Usually a large sum of money (capital) is invested and the interest provides income to the NPO.


A request for information.


A legal status or position of an owner with respect to property and other assets; total assets of a deceased person.

Estate planning

The detailed, planned analysis and arrangement of an individual’s financial resources to ensure maximum income and tax benefits during their lifetime, and for their designated beneficiaries upon death.

Estate duty

An amount levied by the estate on a deceased person’s property.

Executive committee

A formal group delegated by an organisation’s board or governing body to direct the operation and management of an organisation. (See’ board of directors’.)


A person appointed by a testator (a person who makes a will) to carry out his or her will. The executor usually has to administer the estate upon the death of the testator, and dispose of its assets as instructed.

Face-to-face solicitation

Visiting a prospective donor at the prospect’s home, office or other location to ask personally for a gift.

Fact sheet

A summary, usually on one page, detailing an organisation’s purposes, programmes, services, needs, plans and other pertinent information .NPO volunteers often use fact sheet in campaigns.

Faith based

In the European tradition the local church has traditionally been looked on as a distributor of aid and supplier of social services. Welfare services have therefore grown through most of the so-called main-line Christian churches over the past two centuries. Most religious movements teach caring and charity to their followers. Apart from Judaism and Christianity we find that Buddha teaches that there are four things which bring happiness to man in this world. One of them is:” He should practise charity, generosity, without attachment and craving for wealth.” Among the moral and ceremonial teachings of islam, emphasis is placed on: ”Selflessness as a form of gratitude to god. And feed with food for the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Allah only. We wish no reward nor thanks from you. In the Hindu tradition, the streets in the Vedic hymns on the offering of gifts to the gods is an essential feature of religious experience. This is generalised to include the concept of the duty of liberality to all who are in need. Although the religious involvement in social and community services in South Africa is not as pronounced as the rest of Africa, estimated to be 90% of NGOs/CBOs to have religious affiliations.


Faith Based Organisation

Feasibility study

An objective survey of an organisation’s fundraising potential that measures the strength of its case, and the availability of leadership, workers and donors. Usually conducted by a fundraising consultant.

Faith Based Organisation

Feasibility study An objective survey of an organisation’s fundraising potential that measures the strength of its case, and the availability of leadership, workers and donors. Usually conducted by a fundraising consultant.

Financial report

A report detailing an organisation’s sources of income and expenditure over a specific period of time.


The process that an NPO uses to exploit, to the fullest, all the opportunities for a gift. This is done by vigorously pursuing potential support until a prospect offers a concrete response in either the negative or the affirmative.


A philanthropic body formed by companies, families, institution and individuals, to distribute resources, usually income from investments, to non-profit endeavours.


In an NPO context, a friend is a donor or prospective donor, or a group supporting a particular project or NPO.

Fund (noun)

Refers to the vehicle for securing annual contribution; the goal of a capital campaign; the goal of a special programme or project.

Fund (verb)

To contribute value to an organisation, through a vehicle such as money.


An individual who works for, or on behalf of, an organisation’s development department, raising funds. The fundraiser may be a volunteer or employed on a full –or part-time basis. A fundraising event is sometimes called a ‘fundraiser’.


The seeking of gifts from various sources.

Fundraising plan

All of those elements that comprise an organisation’s procedures for attaining its income goals. This includes staffing, structure, timing and budget for the fundraising activities.


A voluntary, irrevocable transfer of something of value in favour of an NPO.

Gift clubs

Categories of donors who are grouped and recognised by NPOs on the basis of similar gift levels.


A contribution of equipment, supplies, or other property in lieu (instead) of money.

Gift range chart

A table or chart of gifts which shows the size and numbers of gifts that are likely to be needed at each level in order to achieve an income goal. This is a tool, which enables fundraisers to plan fundraising and organisational goals.

Gift receipt

A form that is sent to donors, separately or with a letter, officially recognising their contributions.

Gift renewal

The process of securing a repeat gift from a donor, as in an annual fund appeal.


The set amount of money to be achieved by a fundraising campaign.


The way in which an NPO is directed, usually through those persons who constitute the governing body of an organisation or institution.


An allocation of money from a foundation, corporation or government agency.


Grass root organisations Are village organisation based in rural areas. They are informal in structure and evolve out of a need for self-help and self-improvement purposes.

Hard copy

A printed version of a machine’s output in easily readable form, for example, a letter or leaflet.

House list

The names and Addresses of active and recently lapsed donors and members of an organisation.

Independent sector

Also known as the not-for-profit or voluntary sector. This sector comprises organisations which operate independently of government and the private sector. Also the name of an advocacy organisation in the USA.


International NGO’s


Refers to the internal constituency such as a board members, faculty, staff and volunteers.

Initial (lead) gifts

Contributions, usually from trustee or directors of an organisation or institution, that demonstrate commitment to a campaign, before external soliciting begins.

In testate

Not having made a legal will. We say someone ‘died in testate’.

Job description

A summary of responsibilities related to the performance of a task or set of tasks.

Joint funding

Support of a project or programme by more than one donor


Critical or essential


Formal public start to a campaign usually marked with a special event to which major prospects have been invited.


A single, printed sheet of paper unfolded or folded, containing information about an organisation, campaign, project or programme.


A gift by will, usually of money or personal property.

Letter of intent

A letter that states a prospect’s intention to make a specific gift or legacy. The letter could constitute a binding obligation.

List broker

A firm that maintains and rents mailing lists of prospect names.


A general term used in fundraising to denote files and records pertaining to donors, to prospects, and categories of constituencies.


Two or more letters, sometimes forming a short word, which stand for the name of an organisation or institution. A logo could also be an emblem or symbol used to denote the organisation. For example, SAIF’s logo is a stamped seal.

Mail house

A firm that addresses, sorts and bundles direct mail pieces, and delivers them to the post office for mailing. Some offer writing , design and printing services too.

Mailing list

A list of names and addresses of people used for mailing purposes. Often these are categorised according to interests.

Major gifts

The top levels of gifts to a campaign.


The process of matching an organisation’s product to the needs of the market place.

Market research

The process of gathering, recording, and analysing information pertaining to the marketing of goods and services.

Matching gift

A gift that is made on condition that it be matched, within a certain period, on a one-to-one or similar formula basis, by gifts from other sources.

Merge/ purge

A computer operation that combines two or more files of names using a matching process to produce one file free of duplications.

Mission statement

A concise description of the reason for an organisation’s being.


The desire or need that causes staff and volunteers to see a development programme through to success.

Named gift opportunity

Giving a major donor the opportunity of having a building or something similar named in his, her or its honour, for example, the Gold Fields men’s residence at Rhodes University.


The fundraising requirements of an organisation, ranging from immediate to long-term, and from operational to capital and projects.


A letter with news and information about the NPO mailed to donors and prospects to keep them informed of the organisation’s activities, and how funds are being used.


Non-Government Organisation

NGO Non-Government Organisation

Non government (al) organisation (NGO) NGOs tend to be urban-based organisations that have access to funds, and generally have skilled or “professional” staff.


Northern NGO’s

Non-profit organisation (NPO)

Any private organisation that provides services to a community, whose purpose is not to make a profit for its investors.

Operating fund

The fund from which resources needed for the day-to-day running of an organisation or institution are drawn.

Organisation chart (organogram)

A chart depicting the complete structure of an organisation, or division of an organisation, or a campaign body, including all its committees. It is also demonstrates how the various sections of the organisation relate to one another.


An independent service organisation set up, and supported by, government funding..


Public Benefit Organisation


An individual known for his or her exceptional generosities in support of charitable causes.


The philosophy and practise of voluntary giving to NPOs through financial and other contributions; includes voluntary service and initiatives.


A fundraising effort in which volunteers solicit gifts or pledges by telephone. See telethon.

Planned giving

The integration of sound personal financial and estate planning with an individual’s plans for lifetime and bequest giving.


A signed and dated commitment to make a gift over a specific period, payable according to the terms chosen by the donor.


The oral (and sometimes visual) summary of an NPO’s needs or campaign case, usually in advance of an appeal, to an important group of prospects.

Press kit

A collection of material relating to an organisation and its fundraising plans, packaged to inform the media about a specific issue or fundraising campaign.

Private institution

Sometimes organs of civil society that are neither connected to the government nor to the corporate world are called Private Institution such schools or sports clubs.

Private sector

The part of a country’s economy that consists of privately owned enterprises.

Professional ethics

Generally accepted standards of conduct and methods of doing business, as determined by professional bodies, such as organisations of fundraisers, to which members agree to abide.

Progress report

A report prepared periodically during a campaign for distribution to the leaders and workers, to record the stages in the campaign.


The process of drawing attention to and gaining support for an organisation and its campaign, usually incorporating publicity, special events and advertising.


A written request or application for a gift or grand that includes why the project or programme is needed, who will carry it out, how much it will cost, and a specific request for an amount of finance support.


Any logical source of potential support, whether it be individuals, corporations or groups.

Prospect list

A listing of prospective donors maintained by a development or campaign office.


Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa


Public Services Announcement on the radio or television.

Public relations

The practice of creating, promoting, or maintaining goodwill and a favourable image among the public towards an institution or organisation and its work.


The technique or process of attracting public attention to an NPO, through the media or otherwise, free or paid, solicited or not.

Quasi-Non-governmental Organisations


A fundraising programme on a radio station that invites listeners to call in and make financial pledge in support of a charitable cause.

Renewal mailing

A mailing to donors or members requesting renewed support.


A broad term that signifies the full range of organisational assets- human or material.

Response device

A form bearing the name and address of the prospective donor (coded), on which the recipient is easily able to indicate the amount that the donor contributed to the NPO in response to a request.

Restricted funds

Funds which are bound by the donor guidelines as they relate to investment or expenditure by the NPO.

Role of non-profit organisations in civil society

A non-profit organisations needs to keep in touch with the community its serves, particularly with those who benefit from its services. Therefore the leaders of the organisation take on the responsibility of representing their community’s interest. Three distinct groups are identified as having important impacts on community life in most democratic societies: The State of government, Private enterprise or business sector and Independent sector or non-profit sector or voluntary sector or the third sector.


The Southern African Institute of Fundraising.

SAIF: E&T SAIF: Education and Training division

Seed money A gift by a donor to underwrite (support) a fundraising campaign, programme or project.


Southern (International) NGO’s

Site Visit

A visit by a potential donor to inspect a project or review a programme, before coming to a funding decision. Some donors visit the site after they have made a donation in order to see progress.


The process of asking for a contribution.


Volunteers or development staff who ask prospects for contribution to a campaign or development programme.

Source(motivation) code

A code in the form of letters and/ numbers, that indicates the list or vehicle from which the contribution was generated.

Special event

A fundraising function designed to attract and involve large numbers of people for the purpose of raising money or cultivating prospective donors.


A person or company who endorses a charity; or who contributes all or part of the cost of a charitable event, or who provides ongoing support for an aspect of the work.


The proper use of contribution received by an organisation ; can include the activities involved in maintaining a good relationship with the donor.

Strategic plan

A programme incorporating a strategy for achieving organisational goals and objectives, within a specific time frame, including reference to methods, priorities and resources.


Guidelines for making the appropriate choices that influence an organisation’s long-term performance.


The ability of an NPO to sustain itself (or a project) beyond the term of donor funding.


Any specific objective in a fundraising programme or campaign; a prospect; a campaign goal

Target market

A group of potential donors towards which a concentrated effort will be directed to achieve a particular outcome or meet a particular need.

Tax benefit

Any savings in taxable income brought about by giving to charitable organisations.

Tax exemption

Certain donations made to NPOs are legally free of tax. Non-profit organisations may apply for tax exemptions, which means that they will not have to pay income tax.


The process of raising funds or selling products or services by telephone.


A fundraising programme that is broadcast by a television station to have viewers calls in and makes pledge in support of a promoted cause. (See ‘phonothon’.)

Test mailing (pilot mailing)

A mailing in which a test of any nature (list, subject, copy) is conducted to measure response.

Think tank

A group of people meeting to freely examine issue or problems.

Third sector

A term sometimes used to describe all non-profit organisations and institutions (See ‘independent sector’)

Trust fund

The funds held by a trustee or body of trustee for the benefit of others.


A person or agent given legal title to a property in order to administer it for a beneficiary; a member of a governing body.

Trust of foundation

Institution established to fund community work through the Non-profits sector, as a Trust or Foundation, are themselves often termed Non-profits or NGOs. Especially Community Foundations.


In a fundraising context, the total number of prospect names on a particular list; the total number of names in a particular list market.

Unrestricted gift

A gift unconditionally, that is, the donor has not indicated how it should be used.


Adding, changing, or deleting information on a master file of donor records, to include the most recent available data.


The process of increasing the level of giving by donors.


Any individual who works without compensation on behalf of a non-profit organisation.

Welfare organisations

Welfare organisations have a focus of attention on well being of people. In the mind of the donor public “Welfare Organisations “ and “Charity “ are often seen as synonymous.