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
A group of specialists invited to debate a question before a public.
One who takes under his favour and protection a person, cause, foundation or organisation (See also Mecenat)
Perpetuity, Rule Against
In English law a rule of law preventing the perpetual succession to property from one generation to another. Not usually applicable to charities.

Love of mankind, benevolence towards mankind in general.

The promotion of the well-being of one's fellow men.


The process of making decisions in the present toward determining what will happen in the future, usually focussed towards achieving an established goal or objective.

Three levels of planning are identified:

1. Administrative planning is related to an organisation's own development and delivery of services.

2. Operations planning is related to an organisation's interaction with other organisations and the community.

3. Community planning is related to the broader community with possible little direct relationship to an organisation's internal or external operations by which is carried as an agent for change.

A solemn promise.
Prescribed Purpose
The appointed, set, fixed or defined purpose of a foundation or charity.
The chief officer of an organisation, generally having the main direction of its affairs and representing it towards other parties. He/She is normally expected to appear on formal occasions and preside over the Annual General Meeting and other meetings. See also Chairman.
Principal Fund
Applied to the main fund, if subsidiary funds are maintained. Used in relation to the original sum held and invested as capital and yielding interest.
A preferential rating of service programs according to an established set of criteria for the best utilisation of money and staff resources.
Benefits of any kind derived by the excess of value over costs.
An activity or combination of activities related to rendering human services focussed on meeting a given human need.
Programme Development

The orderly process by which solutions are worked out on meeting human needs through:

1. Assessment of need;

2. Inventory of currently available resources for meeting need;

3. Identification of service gaps;

4. Formulation of alternative solutions;

5. Selection of the most viable options;

6. Implementation of the solution (including identifying sources of funding).

Programme Emphasis
A designation of the relative importance of a program in relation to all other programs.

A plan or scheme of something to be done.

An undertaking having a definite goal or object and consisting of a number of individual elements or operations that must be complete in some sequence to achieve the goals.


1. A person deputed in writing to represent another at a meeting or number of meetings and to vote on his behalf;

2. A written authorisation by a person designating another person to act and vote for him.

Public Appeal
A request to the general public for funds.
Public Good or Interest
The welfare of the community as whole. See General Interest.
Public Subscription
The raising of money by public appeal.
Public Trustee
(In England and Wales) The official appointed by the Lord Chancellor under the Public Trustee Act 1906.
An initial grant or gift necessary to establish or start a charitable activity or organisation.
Pure Income Profits
Income that is wholly available to the recipient foundation or charity and for which there is no reciprocal liability.

The object in view; the reason for taking some action.

The field of activity in which an organisation operates.

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