Key Terms & Definitions

Advocacy: Organizations that advocate on behalf of certain communities or groups of people.

Charity: A public charity is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that receives financial support from a broad segment of the general public through donations or the sale of services that further its mission. This includes religious, educational and medical institutions as well as community foundations. (Source: Council on Foundations)

Community: A community foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit, autonomous, publicly supported, philanthropic institution composed primarily of permanent funds established by many separate donors living in a defined geographic area. Typically, a community foundation serves an area no larger than a state. There are more than 750 community foundations across the United States today. (Source: Council on Foundations)

Corporate: Private foundations that derive grantmaking funds primarily from the contributions of a profit-making business. The company-sponsored foundation often maintains close ties with the donor company, but it is a separate, legal organization, sometimes with its own endowment, and is subject to the same rules and regulations as other private foundations. (Source: Council on Foundations)

Direct Service: Nonprofits that provide services directly to individuals and communities.

Endowment: The principal amount of gifts and bequests of a foundation.

Foundations: Organizations that provide financial and human resources to advance the public good. (Source: Council on Foundations)

Grant: An award of funds to an organization or individual to undertake charitable activities. (Source: Council on Foundations)

Nonprofits: Organizations which exist to take direct actions to advance the public good. While this includes Foundations, the term is often used to refer to organizations that seek grants from foundations.

Operating: Private foundations that use the bulk of their income to provide charitable services or to run charitable programs of their own. They make few, if any, grants to outside organizations. (Source: Council on Foundations)


  • Agent group (privilege) has power to define and name reality and determine what is “real,” “normal” and “correct.”
  • Harassment, discrimination, and unequal treatment are part of “business as usual” and become embodied in social structures over time.
  • The oppressed are socialized to internalize their oppressed condition and to conform to the oppressor’s way of thinking and social system.
  • The target group’s culture, language, and history is misrepresented, discounted or eliminated and the dominant group’s culture is imposed.

Private: A private foundation is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization with funds (usually from a single source, such as an individual, family or corporation) and program managed by its own trustees or directors, established to maintain or aid social, educational, religious or other charitable activities serving the common welfare, primarily through grant making. (Source: Council on Foundations)

Privilege: The unquestioned, unearned, most often unconscious advantages and expectations given to certain people solely because of their membership in a particular social group.

Program Officer: Also referred to as a corporate affairs officer, program associate, public affairs officer or community affairs officer, a program officer is a staff member of a foundation or corporate giving program who may do some or all of the following: solicit and review grant requests, recommend policy, manage budgets and process applications for funding. (Source: Council on Foundations)

Social Group: A group of people who share a common social identity and are set apart by socially defined boundaries such as age, race, class, gender, etc. In each social group, individuals are either members of privileged groups (those with social power) or targeted groups (those targeted with oppression).

Social Justice: “Social justice exists in a society where the distribution of resources is equitable; and people have a sense of their own agency (ability to act individually) and a sense of social responsibility toward others and society as a whole.”

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