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Introduction and Forward to the AFP Fundraising Dictionary

Resource Center - Foundation

Dictionary Forward

Pilot. Sleeper. Flag.

When seasoned fundraising professionals hear these words, they don't always bring to mind an airplane, nap time or a symbolic piece of cloth blowing in the wind. In the fundraising arena, these and other words have specific meanings not used in the everyday world. But can we assume that all nonprofit professionals know the fundraising-specific definitions of these and other, more complicated words and phrases such as planned giving, resource development and institutional advancement? Based on my own conversations with fundraising professionals across North America and the world, the answer is 'no.' To eliminate confusion among fundraisers and demystify certain aspects of fundraising, providing donors with a greater trust and citizens with a better understanding of the process, a group of volunteers has created the AFP Fundraising Dictionary.

The AFP Dictionary Task Force first met in the mid-'90s to create a dictionary to replace the Glossary of Fund-Raising Terms. Recently, the task force diligently updated the dictionary and created this new version, which is being posted on the AFP website for the first time.

As one might imagine, this was not an easy process, and AFP is indebted to the work of Barbara R. Levy, ACFRE, Chair, Thomas A. Bila, Ph.D., CFRE, Frank Minton, Barbara H. Marion, CFRE, and Stephen Wertheimer, CFRE. Barbara R. Levy, Editor, R.L. Cherry, Lexicography Editor, AFP and the Dictionary Task Force hope the dictionary serves as a helpful and vital tool in your fundraising interactions, helping you raise critical funds for your organization and serving the needs of your donors, volunteers and community.

Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, AFP president and CEO


The AFP Fundraising Dictionary online, which evolved from the 1996 NSFRE Fund-Raising Dictionary, demonstrates the commitment of the Association of Fundraising Professionals to providing the highest quality services and products to our members and other constituents.

From 1965 to 2003 this organization has kept its members current in the ever-evolving language of our profession. It is often said that computer technology has the shelf life of milk. One might apply this analogy to the dictionary as well. It is no sooner published than new technology, regulations and other such change drivers provide incentives to update this work. While the Dictionary Task Force believed it had put the age old debate of the spelling of fundraising to once again came to the fore as common usage and twisted our arms to reconsider. The title of this work illustrates acceptance of common usage as one word. As in the first edition the committee maintained the original criteria for inclusion in this work: that the terms included are used by those practicing the profession of fundraising; and that the definition of each term reflects only that which is applicable to its fundraising use. We are proud to present this professional resource to our growing membership (now at 26,000). May you and your constituents find answers and resolution to the questions of language in this evolving profession.

Barbara R. Levy, ACFRE, editor and chair The AFP/NSFRE Dictionary Task Force

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