The Nonprofit Glossary

Keela has designed this nonprofit glossary to help you understand the jargons and terminologies used in the nonprofit sector so that you can be more confident in your work.


Accountability is the willingness and ability of a nonprofit organization to take responsibility for and explain its actions, strategies, and outcomes to its donors, supporters, and other stakeholders. 

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Accounting for Nonprofits

Nonprofit accounting is the process through which nonprofit organizations strategically plan, document, assess, and report on their financial performance. It involves the use of accounting software and tools that are specific to the nonprofit sector. 

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Annual Report for Nonprofits

A nonprofit annual report is a comprehensive breakdown and compilation of a nonprofit organization’s performance and progress over a calendar year. This documentation highlights the organization’s successes, challenges, and growth opportunities.

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Artificial Intelligence for Nonprofits

Artificial intelligence (AI) involves using machines to study processes, learn behaviors and make better decisions. Nonprofit organizations can leverage tools powered by artificial intelligence to improve their decision-making processes and automate their fundraising and marketing strategies.

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Association of Fundraising Professionals

The Association of Fundraising Professionals is an international organization that empowers nonprofit professionals to practice ethical fundraising through education, networking, research, and advocacy.

Audits for Nonprofits

A nonprofit audit is an examination of a nonprofit organization’s development and financial practices. It is usually conducted by an independent body or a counsel of fundraising professionals.

Automation for Nonprofits

Automation refers to tools and technologies that require little or no human input. These nonprofit tools can allow marketing and operational processes to run smoothly and automatically without human intervention.

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Average Gift Size

Average Gift Size refers to the average amount of donations a nonprofit receives from its donors. It is calculated by summing up all donations received in a specific period and dividing that amount by the total number of donors who contributed in that same period. 


A bequest is a gift made to a nonprofit organization as part of a donor’s will or trust.

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Board Report for Nonprofits

A nonprofit board report is a document that communicates the organization’s progress and performance to its board of directors. 

Board of Directors for Nonprofits

A nonprofit board of directors is the governing body of a nonprofit organization. This group is responsible for establishing and overseeing the nonprofit’s strategy, structure, and direction.

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Budget for Nonprofits

A nonprofit budget is a document that guides a nonprofit organization’s financial management and decision-making process. It helps the nonprofit forecast, plan, and track its expenses and revenue.

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Nonprofit by-laws are the rules and regulations that govern a nonprofit organization’s operations and management policies. They are enforced by the nonprofit’s board of directors and help the organization resolve conflicts and disagreements. 

Call-to-Actions for Nonprofits

Nonprofit Call-to-Actions (CTAs) are design elements that prompt or encourage donors, supporters, or prospective donors to contribute to the organization or engage in its activities. 

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Capital Campaign

A capital campaign is a fundraising and outreach effort taken by a nonprofit organization to raise a significant amount of money within a specified time. The contributions received from capital campaigns are usually used to execute major projects. 

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Cash Flow Forecast for Nonprofits

A nonprofit’s cash flow forecast is a document that estimates the organization’s financial standing by evaluating its revenues and expenses over a specified period. This document guides the nonprofit’s program and campaign development process. 

Cause-related marketing refers to any strategic marketing effort by a corporation to bring awareness to or raise money for a specific social cause.

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Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE)

A certified fund raising executive is a nonprofit or fundraising professional who has received credentials from CFRE International that attests to their professionalism and expertise as a fundraiser.

Communication for Nonprofits

Nonprofit communication is the process of exchanging information between a nonprofit organization and its donors, supporters, or stakeholders. It allows the organization to share its mission with constituents and solicit funds.

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Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy refers to the collective efforts made by a corporation, or for-profit organization, to contribute to a nonprofit organization’s mission. These contributions could include monetary donations, sponsorships, or in-kind donations.

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Cultivation is the process of building a relationship with a prospect and nurturing the relationship as they move along the donor journey. It involves every communication and interaction that a nonprofit organization has with a newly identified prospect.

CRM for Nonprofits

A nonprofit customer relationship management (CRM) is a comprehensive database and tool that allows nonprofit professionals to collect, store and manage information about donors, prospects, and supporters. Organizations use nonprofit CRM to improve donor relationships by gathering and analyzing important donor data. 

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Crowdfunding is the process of raising money from a large pool of individuals to contribute to the development of a specific project (not an organization).

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Digital Marketing for Nonprofits

A nonprofit’s digital marketing refers to all its marketing activities carried out via the internet. It involves the use of digital tools to implement, measure, and track the organization’s outreach and marketing strategies and performance.

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Direct Mail for Nonprofits

Direct mail is a marketing technique that involves sending physical mail and promotional materials to donors, supporters, and prospects via postal service. 

Director of Development

A nonprofit’s director of development (or development director) is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to increase the organization’s fundraising revenue. 

A donate button, or donation button, is a button on a nonprofit’s website or communication tool that allows donors to contribute to the organization. Donate buttons may be used on donation pages, donation forms, or fundraising emails. 

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Donation Receipt

A donation receipt is a formal acknowledgment that a nonprofit organization has received a donor’s contribution. It is an essential part of donor stewardship cycles and can be used by donors to receive tax incentives. 

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Donor Acquisition

Donor acquisition is the process of attracting new donors to a nonprofit organization by implementing marketing and donor engagement strategies. It can be tracked by measuring the nonprofit’s donor acquisition rate. 

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Donor Churn

Donor churn is the percentage of donors who choose to stop contributing to your nonprofit organization over a specified period. It can be calculated by dividing the number of donors who contributed in this year by the number of donors who contributed in the last year and multiplying the result by 100. 

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Donor Communication

Donor communication is the process by which nonprofit organizations interact and engage with their donors, supporters, and prospects. It involves the strategic use of digital and physical marketing tools to reach, share information with and solicit from donors. 

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Donor Database

A donor database refers to any hub or library used by nonprofit organizations to store and manage information about their donors, supporters, and prospects. They are also referred to as nonprofit CRMs and are essential for researching, tracking, and analyzing donor engagement and fundraising performance.

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Donor Experience Week

Donor experience week is a free, digital capacity event that brings nonprofit professionals and thought leaders together to share ideas on improving the quality of their donor stewardship strategies. 

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Donor Journey

A donor journey is a technique used by nonprofit professionals to understand the process of attracting supporters and nurturing them to become donors and advocates for their cause. It’s a framework for tracking how and when supporters give and communicate with nonprofits and why they make the giving choices they do. 

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Donor Lifetime Value

Donor Lifetime Value (LTV) is the average measure of how much your donors will contribute to a nonprofit organization, from their first donation until the moment they stop giving. It can be calculated by multiplying the average lifespan of donors’ relationship with an organization by their average donation and the number of times they donate within a specified period. 

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Donor Management

Donor management is the process of storing donor information, recording donor interactions, and using donor data to raise more funds.

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Donor Management Software

A donor management software is a tool that nonprofit organizations use to manage, nurture and assess the quality of their donor relationships. It allows nonprofits to engage with their donors, supporters, and prospects and ultimately stewards them to become advocates. 

Donor Profile

A donor profile (also known as donor persona or audience profile) is a description of the individual who is most likely to contribute to a nonprofit organization. It helps nonprofit professionals to research, identify and assess potential prospects for their fundraising campaigns. 

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Donor Recognition

Donor recognition is a practice of acknowledging contributions made by donors and supporters to a nonprofit organization. It is an essential component of donor stewardship and relationship development. 

Donor Relations

Donor relations refers to the collective effort made by a nonprofit organization to improve their donors’ experience and engagement. It requires the implementation of long-term stewardship and helps boost donor retention. 

Donor Retention Rate

Donor retention rate is the percentage of donors who contributed to a nonprofit organization in the previous year and contributed again in the next year. To calculate donor retention rate, divide the number of donors who gave in the current year by the number of donors who gave in the previous year, then multiply that by 100. 

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Donor Segmentation

Donor segmentation is the process of organizing donor contact lists by splitting them into subgroups and segments based on their commonalities. Such commonalities could include giving histories, length of donor relationships, donation amounts, communication preferences, geographic locations, among others. 

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Donor-Advised Fund

A donor-advised fund is a tax-free charitable giving venture that allows donors to make contributions into an account and recommend grants to nonprofit organizations of their choice.

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Email Click-to-Open Rate

Email click rate is the percentage of contacts who opened and clicked a link in a nonprofit’s email. It measures the nonprofit’s email content engagement and CTA performance. 

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Email Marketing for Nonprofits

Email marketing is a direct marketing strategy that involves communicating with and soliciting donors, supporters, and prospect via electronic mail. This form of marketing and communication allows nonprofit organizations to send targeted messages to specific donors and donor segments. 

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Email Open Rate

Email open rate is the percentage of contacts who opened a nonprofit’s email. It reflects the performance of the nonprofit’s email subject lines and preview texts. 

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An endowment is a pool of money donated to a nonprofit organization that acts as a stream of income to support a specific project or campaign. It is typically used by cultural institutions and nonprofits. 

Ethics for Nonprofits

Ethics refers to a collective set of values consistent with the nonprofit’s identity and help foster donor trust. Nonprofit ethics include accountability, transparency, honesty, integrity, equity, and confidentiality, among others.  

Event Management for Nonprofits

Event management involves organizing and overseeing the development and implementation of nonprofit events such as fundraisers, galas, auctions, and annual general meetings. Nonprofit event managers must have good project management, communication, and networking skills.

Executive Director

The Executive Director of a nonprofit is responsible for steering the organization towards its mission. The executive director plays a key leadership role and ensures that the nonprofit team and board of directors are aligned and working towards a common goal. 

Feasibility Study

A feasibility study is a tool used by nonprofit organizations to assess their readiness for a large project and fundraising campaign such as a capital campaign. It typically involves an independent party, or fundraising consultant, evaluating the organization’s plans and process for implementing a campaign successfully.  

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Financial Report for Nonprofits

The nonprofit financial reports are statements that evaluate a nonprofit’s financial health and performance over a specific period. Nonprofits’ financial reports include balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. 

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Fiscal Year

A fiscal year is a period of 12 consecutive periods that nonprofit organizations use for financial reporting, budgeting, and projections. The fiscal year for nonprofits doesn’t have to align with the calendar year, but it should end on the last day of the final month of the 12-month period.

Form 990

Form 990 is a public document that provides the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with financial information about a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization. 

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Fundraisers are the lifeblood of many nonprofit organizations. They are responsible for raising awareness for the nonprofit’s mission through stewardship techniques such as door-to-door solicitations, organizing community-based events, or designing marketing campaigns.

Fundraising Appeal

A fundraising appeal (also known as a donation letter, donation appeal, or fundraising letter) is a formal request made by a nonprofit organization to solicit donations from its supporters.

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Fundraising Campaign

A fundraising campaign is an initiative undertaken by a nonprofit organization to solicit donations from supporters for a cause or to meet a specific need. It also involved using marketing tools to raise awareness about the nonprofit’s mission.  

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Fundraising Event

Fundraising events are used to raise awareness, support, and money for a nonprofit organization’s cause and mission. They are also an avenue for nonprofit organizations to engage with and build relationships with supporters, donors, and stakeholders.

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Fundraising Intelligence

Fundraising Intelligence refers to strategies and tools used to gather, analyze, benchmark, and draw insights and conclusions from nonprofit data. Essentially, fundraising intelligence help nonprofits to make sense of their data and conduct prospect research. 

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Fundraising Plan

A fundraising plan is a document that maps out a nonprofit organization’s intended goals, strategies, and activities for a specific project or campaign.

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Fundraising ROI

Fundraising ROI measures how much money a nonprofit organization can raise for each dollar spent on a campaign or solicitation effort. To calculate fundraising ROI, subtract the entire amount of money spent on fundraising campaigns from the amount raised from the same campaign, then divide that by the amount spent on the campaign. Finally, multiply your result by 100. 

Fundraising Software

Fundraising software is a tool nonprofit organizations use to implement fundraising and donor engagement strategies. Nonprofits and fundraisers can also use this tool to manage their donor data and improve their communication with supporters. 

Gift Range Chart

A gift range chart is a tool used by nonprofit organizations to forecast the amount of gifts or donations and the number of prospects that they need to meet their fundraising targets. 

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a global campaign movement that takes place on the first Tuesday after Black Friday and seeks to encourage giving and contributions to nonprofit organizations worldwide. It has been touted as the biggest day in nonprofit fundraising, annually. 

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Governance refers to the leadership team responsible for overseeing the activities and performance of a nonprofit organization. 

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Grant is a fund given to a nonprofit organization to aid their fundraising and campaign development efforts. It is usually provided by a government, public charity, or a grant-making institution.

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Grant Management Software

A grant management software is used by nonprofit organizations to organize, plan and administer their grant application and process. 

Grant Proposal

A grant proposal or application is a written request for funding made by a nonprofit organization a grant-making organization. 

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Grassroots Fundraising

Grassroots fundraising refers to fundraising efforts made to raise money from donors and supporters within a local community or neighborhood. 

House File

A house file is a document that contains the contact information of a nonprofit organization’s active and recently lapsed donors.

Human Resources Management for Nonprofits

Nonprofit human resources management is the practice of attracting, hiring, and retaining talents for a nonprofit organization. It involves the strategic approach for developing, managing, and supporting nonprofit professionals. 

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Hybrid Fundraiser

Hybrid fundraisers are fundraising events that are held online and in-person simultaneously. It allows nonprofit organizations to engage and solicit donors and supporters digitally and in-person simultaneously.

Impact Measurement

Impact measurement is a technique used by a nonprofit organization to monitor the immediate results of its programming and communicate its long-term outcomes. It allows nonprofits to highlight and identify gaps within their impact.

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In-Kind Donation

An in-kind donation is a non-cash gift given to a nonprofit or qualified donee. In-kind donations can be in the form of a good or service.

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Key Performance Indicators for Nonprofits

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a metric that measures one particular aspect of your organization. It is used to assess the health and growth of your nonprofit organization over time.

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Lapsed Donor

Lapsed donors are donors who contributed to a nonprofit organization in the previous period but haven’t contributed within the current period. Most nonprofits consider lapsed donors over two to three years. 

Letter of Inquiry

A letter of inquiry is a document sent by a nonprofit organization to a funder, foundation, or corporation to present a fundraising opportunity and confirm if the funder would be interested in receiving a funding or grant proposal. 


LYBUNTs are donors who contributed to a nonprofit organization within the Last Year But Unfortunately, Not This year, while SYBUNTs are donors who contributed to a nonprofit organization Some Year But Unfortunately, Not This year. Essentially, these two groups of donors contributed in this past but haven’t done so in this current fiscal year. 

Matching Gift Program

A matching gift program is a fundraising campaign whereby for-profit organizations match the contributions of employees and/or donors who have contributed to a nonprofit organization.

Major Gifts

Major gifts are large contributions made to nonprofit organizations towards a specific project or campaign. The size of the gift varies by the organization, but they are typically the largest gift range for contributions that a nonprofit receives. 

Membership Management Software for Nonprofits

A membership management software is a tool used by a nonprofit organization to gather information about its members, manage its database and communicate with its members. 

Mission Statement for Nonprofits

A mission statement concisely explains a nonprofit organization’s purpose, value, and services. It outlines the reason behind the organization’s scope of operations, intended impact, and outcomes.

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Mobile Giving

Mobile giving, also known as mobile fundraising, is the process of soliciting funds via mobile devices. It allows donors to use their smartphones and handheld devices to contribute to nonprofit organizations. 


A nonprofit is an organization that is organized and operated for a social purpose. It is not operated to generate profit, and any revenue generated is put towards the organization’s development. 

Nonprofit Marketing

Nonprofit marketing refers to strategies employed by a nonprofit organization to increase awareness about its mission, attract donors and supporters and raise funds. It involves all activities, such as content marketing, direct mail marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing, etc., that help the organization reach and engage with more supporters and prospective donors. 

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Non-cash Gift

A non-cash gift is a non-monetary contribution made by donors to nonprofit organizations. It is also known as an in-kind donation.

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Online Fundraising

Online fundraising refers to any solicitation effort by a nonprofit organization via the internet. It involves using digital tools and platforms to engage donors and accept donations.

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Online Fundraising Software

Online fundraising software is a tool that allows nonprofit organizations to collect donations and raise money via the internet. It can also track fundraising revenue and send donation confirmations to supporters.

Online Gift Percentage

Online gift percentage is the proportion of a nonprofit organization’s total donations that comes through digital fundraising efforts.

Operating Budget for Nonprofits

A nonprofit operating budget is a detailed projection of a nonprofit organization’s expected revenue and expenses over a specific period. Nonprofits tend to create an operating budget closer to the end of their fiscal year as this helps them prepare and plan for activities in the following fiscal year. 

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An overhead refers to expenses by a nonprofit organization that cover administrative, management, and fundraising costs.

Payment Processing for Nonprofits

Payment processing, for nonprofit organizations, is the process of collecting donors’ financial information when they make a contribution online. This is done using a payment processor, and the information gathered is used to finalize transactions and ensure donations go through. 

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Peer-To-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is any fundraising activity where a nonprofit organization’s supporters raise money for a campaign from their own network. It’s a multi-tiered model that uses social media and digital communication tools to spread the nonprofit’s message and solicit donations. 

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Philanthropy is a charitable giving effort made by an individual to a nonprofit organization. It could involve the donation of money, time, experience, talent or skills to the nonprofit. 

Planned Gift

A planned gift is a contribution to a nonprofit organization that is allocated to be made at a future date or at the time of the donor’s death.


A pledge is a promise to make a contribution to a nonprofit organization at a certain amount and by a specific time.

Principal Gift

A principal gift is a significant contribution, usually $1 million or more, made to a nonprofit organization. Principal gifts may also come in the form of assets, securities, or other in-kind donations.

Program Manager

A nonprofit program manager is responsible for coordinating, supervising, and organizing activities related to the nonprofit organization’s projects. They ensure the nonprofit team remains aligned with the project goals and objectives.

Prospect (Prospective Donor)

A prospect, or prospective donor, is an individual who has expressed an interest in a nonprofit organization’s cause or cause area and matches the organization’s ideal donor persona.

Prospect Research

Prospect research is the process of identifying and evaluating potential donors for a nonprofit organization. It is a technique usually conducted by prospect researchers, fundraisers, and development directors and may require the use of wealth screening tools to assess the prospect’s capacity to give and affinity towards the nonprofit organization.

Recurring Gifts

Recurring gifts are contributions made by donors to a nonprofit organization on a regular, ongoing basis, usually monthly. Donors who make recurring contributions to an organization are called recurring donors, and their contributions are essential to ensuring the organization has a sustainable revenue stream.

Recurring Gift Percentage

Recurring gift percentage is the rate at which donors repeatedly and predictably give to a nonprofit organization over time.

Restricted Gift

A restricted gift is a contribution made to a nonprofit organization that can only be used towards a specific purpose or campaign. It specifies the way the nonprofit must manage and use the donation.


Nonprofit revenue refers to all funds generated through the nonprofit organization’s fundraising efforts, sponsorships, grants, membership and service fees, and other sources of income.

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Silent Auction

A silent auction for nonprofit organizations is an in-person or virtual event where donors and supporters can place bids on items anonymously. The money raised through the bidding process will go directly towards the nonprofit’s campaigns and programs.

Social Media Marketing for Nonprofits

Social media marketing, for nonprofit organizations, is a digital marketing technique that involves the use of social media platforms and networks to raise awareness about a nonprofit’s cause and attract donors.

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Stewardship refers to a nonprofit organization’s collective efforts towards nurturing, preserving, and improving its relationships with donors. By stewarding donors, nonprofits can prolong and deepen their commitment to their mission and move them along their donor journey. 

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SWOT Analysis for Nonprofits

A SWOT analysis for nonprofit organizations is a technique that allows the organization to examine its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is used to assess the nonprofit’s performance, identify growth opportunities and mitigate risks. 

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Tax Exemption

Tax exemption refers to the removal or reduction of tax rates for an organization. For example, nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) status are exempt from paying federal income tax in the United States.

Text-to-Give Fundraising

Text-to-Give fundraising is the solicitation of funds from donors via text messages. Text-to-Give fundraising tools allow organizations to accept donations via SMS and text messages.

Thank You Letter for Donations

Thank you letters are an excellent way for nonprofit organizations to show their gratitude to donors and supporters. They are vital to the success of a nonprofit’s donor stewardship efforts and may be accompanied by a donation receipt. 

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Third Sector

The third sector, also known as the volunteer sector, is an umbrella term used to describe nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that engage volunteers to perform charitable work.


Transparency, in nonprofit organizations, is the process of conducting nonprofit operations openly and clearly. It may involve the widespread availability of information about the organization’s plans, activities, and progress. Transparency works hand in hand with accountability. 

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Volunteer Management

Volunteer management is the systematic process of attracting, recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and retaining volunteers for a nonprofit organization.

Volunteer Management Software for Nonprofits

A nonprofit volunteer management software is a tool used by a nonprofit organization to coordinate and manage the database of its volunteers.

Wealth Screening for Nonprofits

Wealth screening, for nonprofits, is a donor prospect research technique that involves identifying and evaluating potential donors who have the capacity to make give. 

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Year-End Fundraising

Year-end fundraising is the process of attracting supporters, engaging donors, and raising money for a nonprofit organization’s mission within the last three months of the calendar year. 

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501(c)(3) is a designation given to a nonprofit organization in the United States that is exempt from federal income tax. It is named after section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, which gives registered nonprofit organizations this exemption.