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

Applied to a course of action analogous to a military campaign; an organised effort aiming at promoting a cause or securing a definite result within a certain time, eg a fund raising campaign.

Campaign plan

A carefully-prepared plan, drawn up to ensure the maximum use of available resources and the smooth and efficient progress of the campaign within a set time-table.


Property belonging to an organisation, usually property from which its income is derived. Capital may also be not income-earning, such as land owned by a charity on which its premises stand.

Capital Fund

Principal sum set aside for a specific purpose.


1. The appeal;

2. reasons for the existence of a nonprofit making organisation;

3. the justification for maintaining that it merits gift support.

Case statement

Explanation of the "case" in written form. The case statement should be the basis for all materials prepared by an organisation in support of its activity.

Cash flow

A statement of the movement of funds into and out of an organisation.


A chemical term often applied to a person who inspires or motivates the action of an organisation.


A Presiding officer; a person appointed to conduct the proceedings of an assembly, a meeting, a committee etc.

Normally corresponds with the title "president" (qv) as used in other languages. However, whereas a president is the permanent head of an organisation and presides automatically over all proceedings, whether at meetings or during the intervals between meetings, the function of chairman may have an ad hoc character.

Charitable Company

A company incorporated for charitable purposes only.

Charitable status

The status of being recognised by the law of a country as a foundation, or charity or having charitable purposes, and thus capable of claiming tax privileges.

Charitable Trust

Property and funds held on trust for charitable purposes. (In England and Wales, governed by the Charities Act 1960).

This corresponds with the notion of "dependent foundation", "Treuhand" ("unselbständige Stiftung") or "fond" in continental Europe, a legal form which is often used when the management of funds for a special purpose is not committed to a fresh organisation formed for the purpose, but instead is entrusted to an existing organisation.

In some countries this form is chosen particularly when the management of a small private fund (eg for scholarships) is entrusted to a public, authority, such as a municipality.

Charitable trustees

Persons to whom money and property is entrusted for charitable purposes.

Charities Act

The main statute governing charities in England and Wales is the Charities Act, 1960. It does not extend to Scotland. See Charity.

Charities, Custodian for

(In English law), an officer of the Charity Commissioners appointed under the Charities Act 1960, Section 3. He has perpetual succession, and holds property on behalf of charities.


1. An organisation, institution, society or trust set up for a purpose of general benefit;

2. unselfish activity to assist those in need of financial or other aid, or to better the condition of society or any considerable part thereof.

To most English speaking people, the word is linked with its use for love (especially Christian love of one's neighbour as practised by giving to the poor, caring for the sick, etc.), because of the universal influence of the authorized version of the Bible and the writings of Shakespeare and others on the English language (vide, eg 1 Cor. 13. 13). Now the word has not necessarily a specially Christian association, and carries the notion of generous or spontaneous goodness. Nor is it limited to the relief of the poor.

So far as English law is concerned, trusts entered on the Register kept by the Charity Commissioners (See Charities Act 1960 s.5) are conclusively presumed to be charitable. The purposes which qualify as charitable are those which were referred to in the statute 43 Eliz c.4 of 1601. These were summarised in the 9th century under four heads: 1. Relief of poverty 2. Advancement of education. 3. Advancement of religion, and 4. Other purposes beneficial to the community.

The definition is legal and technical, and has moved a long way from the colloquial meaning of the term, because of the many legal advantages, especially fiscal advantages, enjoyed by charities. The Preamble to the Statute of Elizabeth was repealed by the Charities Act 1960, but the drafting of a new definition proved to be impossible. The four "heads" above apply to most English speaking countries. In other languages than English, the equivalent of "charity" still has the restricted meaning of work carried out by a church or church-related organisations mainly, and especially for providing aid and comfort to the poor and needy. A notable example of that in the international field is "Caritas Internationalis", which shows that in that field the use of the "charity" is usually so restricted.

In the United States, tax exempt charities are identified on the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, and its most recent amendment, the Tax Reform Act of 1976.

Charity Commissioners
(In English law), a body constituted by the Charitable Trusts Acts, to control charities and charity property and to settle schemes in relation thereto.
Charity consultants
Persons employed to advise on questions arising in the administration and organisation of charities.
Charity, Endowed

A charity having a capital fund of its own.

A permanent endowment normally involves the use of income arising from the capital only, leaving the capital sum intact. However, a certain type of American foundation implies the spending of the capital fund over a determined period for the foundation's given purpose.

Charity, Local
One wholly or mainly for the benefit of a locality.
Charity, Mixed
A charity having both an endowment and an annual income from other sources.
Charity, Plain
A charity having no capital fund of its own and being dependent solely upon annual income. (See also "Fundraising foundation").
Charter, Royal
A written document delivered by the Sovereign, setting out terms on which a body of persons are incorporated for specific purposes.
Co-opt, To
To elect a member to a body by the votes of its existing members, as distinguished from election by the general assembly.
Collaborative Funding (Consortium Funding)

The funding of human service program by two different resources (governmental, private, or both).

Collaborative funding implies knowledge of the other resource by both funding resources and a working agreement to share the funding a program. An example would be a city/United Way sharing of costs for a recreation program in a specific city offered by a boys' club.

Meeting organised for discussion of a special subject, usually with limited numbers present.
A power or authority empowering a person or persons to do certain acts; hence: a body of persons appointed and empowered to perform certain tasks on behalf of an organisation.
A promise or undertaking to benefit or to work for a particular object.
A body of persons appointed to deliberate and/or decide on specified matters. Usually subordinate to a superior body.
Committee, Executive
A committee empowered to carry out any particular functions and to make decisions. Usually an executive committee is composed of a small group of persons which a larger body appoints from its own ranks to carry out and/or prepare its decisions and, generally, to manage day-to-day affairs during the intervals between meetings of the main body.
Committee, Finance
The most common committee in the carrying on of foundations or charities, normally responsible for the handling of funds and banking. Often concerned with ways of obtaining funds and with expenditure.
Committee, General Purposes
A committee (often a standing or permanent one) to which Matters of general import are referred by the main body.
Committee, Joint
A committee composed of members nominated by two or more distinct bodies in order to arrange terms of joint action, adjust differences, etc.
Committee, Steering
One preparing the way for the formation of a policy or of an organisation.
Committee, Sub
A subordinate committee, usually formed by a small number of members of a main committee.
Common Good Fund
A fund held for the benefit of the community. Limited in title in England and Wales to corporate bodies established by Royal Charter (Charities Act 1960, Section 31).
Common Investment Fund
A fund, to which property is transferred by participating charities. The capital and income is held for each charity in proportion to the value of the property transferred to the funds. All charities may join in such a scheme. (Under the Charities Act 1960 such a fund was set up in England and Wales by the Charity Commissioners; it is called Charities Official Investment Fund.)
Common Weal
The well-being, interest and prosperity of the community.
Common Welfare
The benefit of a community.

1. A meeting for consultation, deliberation, exchange of opinion or removal of differences. A meeting called to have the group develop an answer to a problem.

2. A governmental or private organisation whose chief purpose is to organise periodical conferences (eg Hague Conference on Private International Law; International Sanding Conference on philanthropy).

A formal meeting of delegates or representatives for discussion of some question of the adoption of measures for their common good.
A term borrowed from politics. In the field of charity it means the body of persons who support or who can be expected to support a charitable organisation, usually by financial donations and often by working to further its interests.
The system or body of fundamental rules and principles of a nation, state, or political body that determines the powers and duties of the government and guarantees certain fundamental rules as to aims activities, structure and procedures of an organisation.

A specialist in some subject available to give advice.

One who gives professional advice or services regarding matters in the field of his special knowledge or training.

Something given to the property of an organisation or institution; payments made to meet the organisation's costs. Hence contributor, one who gives or contributes.
An assembly or gathering of delegates for some special purpose; (American) a congress (qv).
Corporate body
A body of persons legally united, so as to be in law regarded as a single person.
Corporate contributions
Donations made by a corporate body, usually a company.
Corporate giving
Giving by commercial bodies to charitable purposes, either direct to Specific objects or indirectly through foundations set up and endowed by, the donors.
The "body", "capital" or "principal sum" of a charity from which income is derived (as distinguished from interest or income).
Cost Center
A clearly identifiable activity or set of activities which can be distinguished as to the objectives, costs incurred and income received in carrying it out.
Custodian Trustee

(In English law) a corporate trustee who holds property on behalf of trust (as distinguished from the managing trustee who does the work of administration).

A system used in order to enable the appointment of new managing trustees, as people come and go, without the necessity of transferring the trust property from the Id trustees to the new on each new appointment.

Cy-Pres Doctrine, The
In English charity law the doctrine that where a settlor or testator as expressed an intention, and also a particular way in which he wishes it carried out, but the intention cannot be carried but in that particular way, the Court will direct the intention to be carried out as nearly as possible in the way desired.
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