This glossary of terms is a work in progress
to develop a better understanding of the
vocabulary currently used within our
industry, it will be added to on an
on-going basis.





Charitable organization
Also known as charity and set up with a clear purpose of contributing to the common good as opposed to generating a financial profit; all charities are non-proft-organisations, however, not all non-profit organizations are charities.Community
Refers to a group of interacting people living in a common location; the definition of the word has evolved over time and can also refer to community of interests as well, regardless of location.

The practice of compassion on all living things.

Corporate Citizenship
Refers to a contract between business and society and its interdependence: business can only prosper in healthy communities, hence, being a good corporate citizen is good for business

Corporate philanthropy
The term is favoured in the USA and often refers to corporate social responsibility activities formally conducted through corporate foundations with explicit guidelines for giving.

Corporate social investment
Business case aligned corporate investments for social issues such as health, education, homelessness etc and unlike corporate philanthropy is mostly strategic and implies an expectation of return on investment.

Corporate social responsibility
The social responsibilities of business, not environment, however, is often used in a wider sense and confused with corporate sustainability.

Corporate responsibility
Used interchangeably with corporate sustainability, corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility and refers to the environmental, social and governance and economic responsibilities of business

Crowd funding (or crowd financing, cloud funding) is the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and resource together to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.



Ecological footprint
Refers to the analysis of the human demand on ecosystems and natural resources and is the estimate of the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources required by human consumption applying today’s understanding.

The complex system of plant, animal, fungal, and micro-organism communities and their associated non-living environment which are interacting as an ecological unit. EPA Glossary of Climate change terms, USA.





Impact investments
Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations & portfolios with the intention to generate positive social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending on the circumstances. Impact investors actively seek to place capital in businesses and funds that can harness the positive power of enterprise.  Impact investing occurs across asset classes, for example private equity / venture capital, debt, and fixed income.





Mission driven fundraising
Mission driven fundraising is the ideal situation when fundraising is designed and implemented to promote the organisational mission, not simply designed to bring money in.  Mission driven fundraising campaigns raise awareness of the issues as well as funds.


Non-government-organisation (NGO)
Refers to a legally constituted organization without participation of government even if the NGO is fully or partially funded by governments.

Not-for-profit organisation (NFP)
Also nonprofit organisation; refers to a registered organisations with the primary purpose to support or to actively engage in activities of public and private interest without commercial or financial profit.



The act of donating money, goods, time and/or effort to support charitable causes and can generally refer to any altruistic activity intended to promote the common good.




Social change

A long-term process which aims to achieve changes in nature, social institutions, social behaviour and social structures and institutions.

Social economy
Third sector in the economy in addition to the business and government (public) sector and includes a wide range of community activities including commonly referred to not-for-profit activities.

Social entrepreneur
A person who recognises a social concern and uses entrepreneurial principles to organise, create and manage a venture to achieve social change; a social entrepreneur measures return for investment through the impact the venture has on the wellbeing of society rather than financial return.

Social enterprise
Social enterprises are profit-making businesses trading goods and services for a social and/or environmental purpose and is a relatively new term for a type of business that has existed for at least a century.

Social marketing
The systematic application of marketing principles along with other concepts and techniques to promote a social cause with the aim of raising awareness, funding or achieving behavioural change.

Social profit organisation
New term for nonprofits and non-government organisations and an attempt to define these legally constituted organisation which work for the common good by what they are doing rather than what they are not doing.

Sustainable development
‘Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ Our Common Future, Brundtland report, 1987.

Sustainable lifestyle
Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources. Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet.

Sustainability reporting
The (in most countries voluntary) public presentation of information about an organisation’s non-financial performance – environmental, social and economic – over a specified period, usually a financial year.


Third sector
Forms a major component of the economy and has increased in importance; it encompasses all not-for-profit and non-government organisations including the activities of volunteering and giving sustaining these organisations; third sector organisations vary greatly in size and in their activities and range from neighbourhood associations, over credit unions to private schools and welfare organizations.

Triple bottom line
Most often refers to sustainability accounting and reporting; triple bottom line accounting means expanding the traditional reporting framework to take into account environmental- and social – in addition to financial performance.