Intro to the Lingo: Learning the Philanthropy Jargon

When you’ve read our social media posts or our annual reports (preferably both…), you might have come across some jargon that Catalyst Balkans uses almost daily but for those of you outside the world of philanthropy might have no clue about. Well, we’ve decided to help you out in deciphering some Philanthropy-speak. Below you’ll find that we broke down some of the words we often use that might not be spoken so much in everyday conversation. Hopefully, we can shed some light on some philanthropy common terms.

These are the words to know…


Our first word we’re tackling is philanthropy. The reason Catalyst Balkans exists, philanthropy can be defined a few ways. The etymology of the word comes from Greek, meaning, “love for humankind.” In its broadest definition philanthropy can be understood as the process of supporting and protecting human welfare (but even that has grown to also include assistance to non-human animals). As an organization, we also define philanthropy as giving of goods or services in response to the desire to assist others. Philanthropy can be directed towards supporting schools, starting health clinics, sustaining cultural programs, and many other instances that seek to improve the quality of life for individuals.

Strategic Giving:

Often times you might run across the term as when businesses contribute to nonprofit organizations or other similar institutions. At Catalyst, we use the term in reference to a gift from a donor in which the gift provides a good or service in order to alleviate a larger issue than just a one-time situation.

Giving Circles:

Giving Circles are a unique way of giving; where various individuals actually come together to raise money, then (as a collective) decide how to give the money raised. This philanthropic initiative is really based on community level ideas and work, which is why we organize the DobroČiniTi in order to allow people from the community to get involved in philanthropy directly.


We define a beneficiary as the party that receives a benefit from a philanthropic transaction. For example, if you donated money to support the health expenses of an individual, that individual would be the beneficiary of the donation.  The word both describes individuals who receive immediate assistance or those who may receive it down the line through educational programs, medical clinics, renovated shelter spaces, and the like.


Donors make our world go round. These are the people and the groups that contribute funds, items, or services that go towards assisting beneficiary(ies). 


Stakeholders are all the relevant parties that have an interest or are affected by a project. When it comes to philanthropy, stakeholders can be the people in the community, the donors, and the beneficiaries.

Non-profit Organization:

Often called non-profits for short, these organizations usually exist to enact some positive social change. And they can be focused on any topic imaginable. The non-profit’s income is never used for the direct private gain of those employed. Instead, the primary target of the organization’s income is to provide the support needed for its operation and the mission of the group.

In-kind donation:

An in-kind donation is one that is not cash, and usually takes the form of some type of good. For example, if an individual donates some clothes to a shelter, then they are making an in-kind donation.


A voluntary, non-governmental, and non-profit organization established to further certain goals and interests.


An organization with no underlying assets, and was established to achieving a target of a social good, usually through disseminating funds through different grant schemes.

Cause-Related Marketing:

Many businesses tend to work with philanthropy through Cause-Related Marketing. This marketing strategy focuses on various types of philanthropic giving, like donating coffee and treats to a non-profit’s event or sponsoring a school’s sports team. Cause-Related Marketing is useful for businesses to get more involved in the community while also advertising their products or brand. It further assists non-profits and community organizations because it provides donations to support their work.


This term refers to one person who gives to a charity, foundation, etc., and who can be identified in doing so.  

Mass Individual:

We refer to Mass Individual giving in instances where there are large numbers of individuals participating but who could not be identified.

Grassroots Fundraising:

Grassroots Fundraising focuses on the local level of philanthropic giving. That is, grassroots fundraising raises money from the community instead of from international or non-local organizations or groups.


When it comes to science, a catalyst speeds up a chemical reaction, and allows for less energy to be used during a reaction. These substances exist even after the reaction occurs and go on to speed up other reactions. Outside the chemical world, catalysts also cause changes or happenings. Our mission at Catalyst Balkans is a mix of both: We see ourselves as precipitating social change through providing data and resources on philanthropy in the region. Our work is dedicated to sustaining and growing philanthropy in the Balkans.

Have any more questions about philanthropy-related words or phrases?

Let us know in the comments!

And make sure to connect with us on social media: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @CatalystBalkans.

About author


Alex Cooper

Alex is Catalyst's copywriter. He heads Catalyst's blog where he writes on all things philanthropy and the Balkans. Alex can be reached at alex[at]catalystbalkans[dot]com. You can also follow him on Twitter @wgacooper.