Fundraising jargon: what does it all mean?

Building fundraising capacity in sport for good starts with clarity and consistency. Fundraising jargon is clunky and confusing, used often too casually and interchangeably. We have attempted to explain/define a list of commonly used terms that we’re sure is not exhaustive, but hopefully a helpful starting point:

Fundraising: The process of identifying and gathering financial resources for your (typically non-profit) organisation. 

Resource mobilisation: The process of identifying and gathering resources (including income, but also non-financial assets) for your organisation. 

Fundraising readiness: The state or condition of an organisation being fully prepared to undertake fundraising activities effectively and efficiently.

Fundraising strategy: a plan that outlines how an organisation will secure the financial resources needed to support its mission and planned activities.

Trust fundraising: The practice of raising money from private grant making trusts and foundations.

Corporate fundraising: The practice of engaging businesses and corporations as donors or sponsors.

Statutory fundraising: The practice of obtaining financial support from governmental bodies, including local, regional, national, or even international government agencies. 

Institutional fundraising: Broad term, often used to encompass trust, corporate and statutory fundraising.

Individual giving: the financial contributions made by private individuals to non-profit organisations, charities, or causes.

Social enterprise: the sale of goods and services to generate income that is reinvested into your organisation’s social purpose.

Expression of Interest (EOI): An initial, often brief, submission by a potential grant applicant indicating their interest in applying for funding. It outlines the proposed project and its alignment with the funder’s objectives, used to gauge whether the applicant should be invited to submit a full proposal.

Eligibility enquiry: An approach made by an organisation to a prospective donor to determine if it meets the criteria to apply for funding. This can include questions about organisation size, type, or focus areas of the proposed project.

Unsolicited applications: Funding applications submitted by an organisation without a prior invitation from the donor. These are not in response to a specific grant call but are initiated by the applicant based on perceived alignment with the funder’s interests.

Project: A planned set of interrelated tasks to be executed over a fixed period and within certain cost and other limitations, designed to achieve a specific goal.

Need: A problem or opportunity that the project aims to address, demonstrating the necessity for the proposed intervention or service.

Activities: The specific tasks or programs undertaken by an organisation to achieve its objectives, produce outputs, and lead to desired outcomes.

Output: The immediate products, services, or results generated by project activities. Outputs are measurable and directly linked to project activities.

Outcome: The short to medium-term effects of a project's outputs, indicating changes or benefits for individuals, groups, or communities. Outcomes should directly address the identified needs.

Impact: The long-term, broader changes or benefits resulting from a project, beyond the immediate outcomes. Impact reflects the contribution to wider societal, environmental, or economic goals.

Cultivation: The process of developing relationships with potential donors or supporters through personalised engagement, with the aim of encouraging their eventual financial support.

Stewardship: The ongoing process of managing donor relationships after a gift has been received, including thanking donors, reporting on the use of funds, and keeping donors engaged to foster future support.

Case for support: A compelling narrative that outlines an organisation's mission, the need it addresses, the impact of its work, and why support or funding is needed. It is used to persuade potential donors or funders to provide financial support.

Revenue costs: Expenses that recur and are necessary for the day-to-day operation of a programme or the organisation, such as salaries, utilities, and office supplies.

Capital costs: One-time expenses for physical assets that have a long-term use or value, such as buildings, equipment, or major renovations.

Core costs: Essential operational expenses that an organisation needs to cover to function effectively but are not directly attributed to specific projects or programs.

Overheads: Indirect operational expenses that are incurred by an organisation in the delivery of specific projects or programs.

Full cost recovery (FCR): A funding approach that ensures all the direct and indirect costs of a project or activity are covered by the funding, recognising the need for sustainability.

Unrestricted reserves: Funds that an organisation has set aside without any restrictions by donors on how they can be used, allowing flexibility in allocation towards various needs.

Endowment: A financial asset, in the form of money or other property, donated to an organisation with the stipulation that it be invested, and the principal asset remains intact while the investment income is used for charitable purposes.

Match funding: A funding arrangement where the amount contributed by a donor is matched by another source of funding, often used to leverage additional funds and encourage co-investment.

Vision: A statement describing the desired long-term future or ultimate goal the organisation aims to achieve, serving as an inspirational guide.

Mission: A concise statement that defines the core purpose of an organisation, what it seeks to accomplish, and whom it serves, guiding its strategies and activities.

Values: Core principles or beliefs that guide an organisation's actions, decisions, and interactions with others, reflecting its culture and priorities.

Objectives: Specific, measurable goals that an organisation aims to achieve within a certain timeframe, contributing to the fulfilment of its mission.

Monitoring: The continuous process of collecting and analysing data to assess the progress of a project or program towards achieving its objectives.

Evaluation: The systematic assessment of a project or program’s design, implementation, and results, aimed at determining its effectiveness, impact, and sustainability.

Quantitative evidence: Data that can be measured and expressed numerically, offering insights into the scale, frequency, or extent of a project's outcomes or impact.

Qualitative evidence: Non-numerical data that provides in-depth narrative on the characteristics, dynamics, and meanings of an activity's outcomes, often gathered through interviews, case studies, or observations.

Beneficiary: An individual or group who benefits directly from a project or programme’s activities and outcomes.

Beneficiary-led: Interventions or organisations that are designed and guided by the input, needs, and preferences of those who will benefit from them, ensuring relevance and effectiveness.

Lived experience: The personal knowledge and understanding gained by individuals through their own experiences, often referenced in the context of involving beneficiaries or individuals with direct experience of an issue in the design and implementation of programmes.

To secure the necessary resources and achieve our collective mission of using sport as a catalyst for social change, we believe that community sport organisations around the world must prioritise and develop robust fundraising skills. We will continue to build this list out over the coming months, alongside developing tools and resources that we hope will support fundraising practice in the sector. 


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