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Work Words

By Erdin Beshimov

If you want to get hired, understanding the jargon used in the industry can be vital. Here's a brief glossary of common nonprofit terms.


Section of the Internal Revenue Code that designates an organization as charitable and tax exempt. Organizations qualifying under this section include religious, educational, charitable, amateur athletic, scientific or literary groups, foundations, organizations testing for public safety, or organizations involved in prevention of cruelty to children or animals.


An individual or organization that provides donor services and/or funds.


  A person (or people) who tries to influence the votes of legislators, public officials, companies, or the general public for or against a specific cause.

Community Foundation

A foundation established by individuals and/or organizations for the benefit of the residents of a specific geographic area.  Community foundations can take on many different goals such as housing, education, and healthcare.

Grassroots Organizers

Grassroots organizers are responsible for providing non-profit services at the most local level: within a specific community.

Capacity Building

The development of an organization's core skills and capabilities -- such as leadership, management, finance and fundraising, programs and evaluation -- in order to build the organization's effectiveness and sustainability.

Capital Campaign

An intensive fundraising endeavor to raise funds for a special project such as the construction of a facility or the acquisition of equipment.

Cultivating Donors

The cultivation process is a means of building relationships with potential donors.  The first step is often to discover what really interests a potential donor and to find ways of bridging the donor's interests to those of your organization.

Challenge Gift

A substantial monetary gift made by an individual, corporation or foundation that challenges others to give at a certain level, either on a matching basis or some other prescribed formula, usually within a specified period, with the objective of stimulating fundraising activity.

Cause Marketing

Also called cause-related marketing, a partnership between a for-profit company and a non-profit organization that increases the company's sales while raising money and visibility for the cause.

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