Graduate Guide to Fundraising: Part 4.1

Now that you know what fundraising sector looks like as a whole, it’s time to learn the lingo. Every sector is full of jargon, and the fundraising sector is no different – with references to stewardship, RoI, CRMs and “relationship fundraising” filling most job descriptions. We’ve got you covered with our guide to the most commonly used acronyms and concepts in fundraising:

Because there are so many different types of fundraising, and each come with their own set of buzzwords, we’ve split this post into four sections. This one, which covers sector-wide concepts, and then three others – for digital (available here), corporate (available here) and major donor (available here) fundraising. To the sector wide concepts:

  1. Donor / Supporter
    This is a semantic difference that likely has some disagreement across the sector – to my definition, a donor gives their money where a supporter gives their time (by doing challenge events or making introductions), but don’t take this as read. The two words are often used interchangeably.
  2. Gift
    Is another word for donation.
  3. Gift in Kind
    Is a non-financial donation, such as free venue hire or pro bono consultancy work.
  4. “Ask”
    In the fundraising sector, we have turned this verb into a noun – we are often asked how confident we are to “make the ask” – but it ultimately means to ask a supporter (or potential supporter) for money.
  5. Major Donor
    The definition of a major donor (and a major gift or donation) varies from charity to charity – the standard rule of thumb is that the 5% of donors for any organisation who give the largest donations are that organisation’s major donors, but a major donor fundraiser will often by seeking gifts between £1,000-1,000,000 and above!
  6. Restricted Gift/Restricted Funds/Restricted Income
    Restricted gifts are donations that are made for a specific purpose: for example, to support the building of a new classroom or for the purchase of specific medicine. The opposite of this is unrestricted funding, which can be used for anything in line with the charity’s objectives – including funding ‘overheads’ such as staff salaries.
  7. Stewardship
    Is the phrase we use for looking after our donors and supporters between donations – stewarding a donor involves thanking them for their donation (with a thank you appropriate to the size of their donation – such as an email for a £5 donation and a hand-written card for a £5,000 one), informing them of the impact of their gift and preparing them to be asked to support again in future.
  8. Supporter Journey
    We often map the stewardship we are going to provide a donor onto a “supporter journey” – for example, once they’ve donated a certain amount they receive a certain email with a case study, and once they’ve been donating for a certain length of time we ask them to increase their gift.
  9. Relationship Fundraising
    Is a key phrase in the fundraising sector, based on a book published in 1992, that means putting the relationship with your donor at the heart of your fundraising practice. This style of fundraising is about maximizing the lifetime value of a donor rather than focussing on short term wins that may then alienate them. You can read more about this here and here.
  10. ROI
    This acronym stands for “Return on Investment” and is a measure of how efficient a form of fundraising or product is. To work out the return on investment, you divide the amount raised by the amount it cost to raise it: for example, a gala dinner that raises £6,000 that cost £2,000 to put on has a 3:1 return on investment.
  11. Prospect
    A prospect is a potential supporter – for a corporate fundraiser, their “top prospects” are the businesses at the top of their list to approach to form a partnership, whereas for a major donor fundraiser their prospects are people that might have the ability and willingness to give a sizable donation.
  12. Pipeline
    A pipeline is the list of people a fundraiser is working on – for an events fundraiser, their pipeline will be of people that have enquired about taking part in an event, whereas for a corporate fundraiser this will be the list of businesses they’re looking to approach. Most (but not all) jobs require you to balance stewarding a number of existing donors whilst trying to woo members of your pipeline.
  13. CRM
    This acronym can stand for any number of things within the charitable sector, including Cause Related Marketing (where a company puts their logo next to the logo of a charity to boost their image), Customer Relationship Management system (which are databases in which people track their supporters and history – the most famous of which is Raisers Edge) or Charity Related Merchandise, which is products of which a percentage of the proceeds go to charity.

With these terms under your belt, you should be able to better understand job descriptions and make yourself stand out in job applications – it’s easy to give examples of stewardship from previous customer service experience, for example.

The next part of the Graduate Guide to Entering Fundraising – focussing on actually getting the job you want – will be available shortly . If you have any questions about the contents of this article or getting a role in fundraising, get in touch here. 

Return to the homepage of the guide here.

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