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Talk The Talk: Philanthropy Vocabulary



  If you're new to philanthropy, you've likely encountered a range of new vocabulary in your research. We've tried to narrow down some of the most commonly used phrases and while it isn't an exhaustive list, we hope it'll help you on your philanthropic journey.

  Audacious Philanthropy

  Practical approaches used to achieve transformative social impact. Large-scale change often takes more than 20 years and requires winnable milestones and design approaches that will work at a massive scale.

  Collective Impact

  Participants share a vision of change and a commitment to solve a complex problem by coordinating their work.

  Community Foundations

  Community foundations are grant-making public charities that are dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area.

  Effective Altruism

  The use of high-quality evidence and careful reasoning to work out how to help others as much as possible.

  Donor-Advised Fund

  A philanthropic vehicle established at a public charity. Donors are permitted to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax benefit and recommend grants from the fund over time.

  Donor Networks

  An extended group of donors who interact and remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support. Some donor networks are targeted to specific audiences in philanthropy (such as Women's Donor Network, which focuses on women donors or Resource Generation, which focuses on younger donors), while others seek to be inclusive of a broader array of audiences (such as Exponent Philanthropy). Donor networks provide opportunities for donors to connect with others and learn about giving with and from peers. Some also offer opportunities for donors to give together to address strategic opportunities.

  Family Foundation

  A charitable giving vehicle where funds come from members of one family.

  Giving Circles

  A form of participatory philanthropy where groups of individuals donate their own money or time to a pooled fund, decide together where to give these away to charity or community projects and, in doing so, seek to increase their awareness of and engagement in the issues covered by the charity or community project*. Many circles, in addition to donating their money, also contribute their time and skills to support local causes. A giving circle can be a subset of members in a donor network collaborating on a strategic initiative, or can also be a donor network unto itself.


  The action of solving problems and making a commitment to partnering with the people closest to the issues philanthropists aim to solve.

  Impact Investing

  Placing capital in enterprises that generate social or environmental goods, services, or ancillary benefits, with expected financial returns ranging from the highly concessionary to above market.


  Originating from Greek and meaning "love for mankind." The modern definition encompasses the practice of voluntary giving for humanitarian purposes by an individual or group.


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