Civil Society Glossary


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In the summer of 2004, the UIA partnered with the Europhil Trust to edit, publish and host its Civil Society Glossary. This is the most recent version which appeared online in 2006.

The Civil Society Glossary is a resource of terms and definitions used when working in and with the civil society sector.

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Term Definition
The responsibility of a non-profit organisation to report to the community as to the utilisation of funds (fiscal accountability), as well as the effects of such utilisation (program accountability).
The application of income of a fund to capital with a view of building up the fund.

1. The management or conduct of the affairs of an organisation, including the disposal or distribution of properties (commonly applied also to the estates of deceased persons).

2. Any governmental department or service responsible for executing the law and implementing the obligations undertaken by the State.

Administrative expenses
The charges, costs, or items of outlay of administration incurred in the execution of the purposes of an organisation.

1. Connection of persons with an organisation.

2. Membership of one organisation in another organisation. Thus an "affiliated member" (see also Members)


1. Originally: the relation in which one person acts for or represents another, hence: an establishment or organisation whose purpose is that of doing business for another;

2. A non-governmental organisation (eg voluntary agency);

3. An office of the government or acting for the government;

4. An intergovernmental office.


The objects or purposes of an organization.

The aims provide the main guidelines for the organisation's activities.

For the purpose of realising the aims, they may be broken down into objectives. While the objectives themselves may be limited in time and may be terminated by the achievement of certain activities, the aims remain a permanent goal, and, if fully achieved, or if they can no longer be achieved, the organisation must either change its aims or should be wound up.


The action of apportioning, granting or assigning of something to special purpose or person; A sum so apportioned.


An amount of, money paid to compensate for, or offset certain expenses.

Annual General Meeting (A.G.M.)

The English equivalent of a general assembly (See Assembly, General).

A meeting of an organisation which all embers are entitled to attend and which under the terms of its charter or constitution must be held once a year for deciding the organisation's main statutory business, such as the election of officers, adoption of the budget and accounts, taking note of reports etc.

Annual giving

Yearly giving, usually to charitable purposes - and commonly by a deed of covenant.


A public request for financial support of a charitable cause.

Often this method is used for special charity campaigns.

The mass media are sometimes used as a vehicle to convey the appeal to the public.

Articles of Association

Rules for the internal management of an organisation (applicable only to incorporated associations).

The term refers particularly to the initial conditions agreed between those who have jointly established an organisation.

Assembly, General

A meeting of all members of an organisation which constitutes the highest, decision-making body under the terms of its charter or constitution, and is held for deciding the most important business such as election of officers, adoption of the budget and accounts, amendment of the constitution, adoption of bye-laws, etc.

Constitutions of organisations normally distinguish between the regular or ordinary general-assembly held at fixed periods (usually once a year) and an extraordinary general assembly convened by the board or at the request of a certain number of members to decide an important matter in the interval between two ordinary general assembly meetings.

A mandatory gathering of members of an organisation for the conduct of official business. (See also Annual General Meeting).

Assembly, Plenary

A fully constituted assembly composed of all members (in contrast to the meeting of a committee formed or empowered by that assembly).

Assets, Capital

Stocks or funds.

Accumulated wealth or property.

Assets, Fixed

Property, plan, and equipment.

Assets that are tangible and generally used by the organisation over a relatively long period of time (more than one year).


An organized body of persons, normally dedicated to a non-profit purpose.

Where such a body complies with certain legal formalities, it may obtain juridical status. It is governed by a constitution.


One appointed by another person to do something in his stead.

Attorney, Power of

An instrument authorising one person to act for another person.


The examination of financial statements of an organisation by a disinterested third party. It is designed to give the accountants a basis for judging how effectively the records were kept and the degree of reliance he can place on the internal controls.

Autonomy, Agency

The right of a non-profit organisation to self-government of policies and administration, autonomous from its funding resources.

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