Definitions: Nonprofit Technology Terminology

We’ve pulled together explanations of some of the top technology terms (some nonprofit-related, and some general technology terms) that we commonly use with our clients, or that they ask us about, to share with you as a handy reference.

We’ll update and add to this page over time be sure to bookmark this page so you can use it as a resource in the future!


  • Accessibility — A process to make web access and interactivity available to everyone, including those with disabilities, socio-economical challenges, and older adults.
  • Action Alert — A message or communication that is urgent and that requests a constituent take action on a particular issue. Often used for advocacy outreach.
  • Admin — A person who has administrator access to a program.
  • AddThis — A widget or plugin that can be used for social sharing web pages, emails, or other online content. See www.addthis.com for more information.
  • Analytics — A broad term for metrics or data. Analytics are important to help you reach your goals and measure success. Common analytics are: how many visitors to your site, how many pages viewed per session, how many emails opened, opt-in/out rates, etc.
  • API —Acronym for application program interface, a set of protocols and tools that allow a programmer to allow two software programs or applications to communicate with each other.
  • App — A software application, typically a small, specialized program downloaded onto mobile devices.
  • Application — A program or piece of software designed and written to fulfill a particular purpose of the user.
  • Audience — In Blackbaud’s Luminate Online product, to whom your email message will reach. The Audience consists of “Target” groups and “Do Not Mail” (exclusion) groups.
  • Autoresponder — An email message the system automatically sends to a person who interacts with your organization in some way, such as by donating or signing up to attend an event.


  • Browser — A program, such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari, that allows users to visit web pages and use web applications.
  • Benefit Value — Non-tax deductible portion of a donation.
  • Campaign — A series of operations undertaken to achieve a set goal(s), usually within a particular time period with defined start and end dates.
  • Constituent — A member of a community or organization; typically a donor or participant in fundraising.
  • Convio — A software company that provided online marketing and fundraising software applications for nonprofit organizations, and was purchased by Blackbaud in 2012. Blackbaud’s Luminate Online and Luminate CRM products are evolutions of products that were acquired from Convio.
  • Cloud computing — The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.
  • CMS — Acronym for content management system; a software application, such as WordPress, used to create and manage online content.
  • Conditional content — Content that automatically displays in an email or web page only when specified conditions are met. For example, an email or web page could display the content “Thank you for your recent give of [$XXX.XX]!” if the constituent viewing the email or web page is a recent donor (the specified condition).
  • CRM — Acronym for constituent relationship management (in the for-profit world, customer relationship management); a software application or database created to house information about donors, volunteers, and other people related to a nonprofit organization.
  • CSS — Acronym for Cascading Style Sheets; a type of coding language that controls the styling (font, colors, spacing, positioning, etc.) of all elements on your web page, usually separated from the HTML.


  • Designation (aka Fund) — A way to record donor instructions on how their donations are spent or earmarked; sometimes tied to a General Ledger (GL) code.
  • Domain (or domain name) — A website name (for example, cathexispartners.com) that points to the location, or IP address, of a website.
  • Donation form — A form on a web page used to collect a donor’s contact and payment information.
  • Donation campaign — A series of activities undertaken to achieve a financial goal in either total money raised or number of donations made, usually within a particular period with defined start and end dates.
  • DNS — Acronym for domain name servers; an internet service that translates domain names (the website name you type into your browser) into their corresponding IP addresses (the website location).
  • Drip campaign — A communication strategy that sends, or “drips,” a pre-written set of messages to customers or prospects over time. These messages often take the form of email marketing, although other media can also be used.
  • Duplicate management — A process to clean and maintain data records, by setting rules for allowing or disallowing duplicate records, as well as identifying and reconciling existing duplicate records.
  • Dynamic content — See Conditional content.


  • eCard — A visual online message that your constituents can email to spread your organization’s message. You can use eCards on their own as an email campaign or as part of a donation campaign. For instance, a donor can make a gift and send an eCard to a friend letting the friend know the gift was made in his/her honor.
  • eCommerce — An online shopping experience where you can have a store and sell products to support your organization’s mission.
  • Email campaign — A collection of email messages that are related, usually by purpose.
  • End user — A website visitor, donor, participant, or constituent who is using your website.


  • GIF — Image format best for limited-color pictures, such as logos. Can be transparent. Can also be animated, if the environment supports it.
  • Gigya — A social sharing and authentication tool that can integrate with websites, such as Luminate Online and TeamRaiser sites. (See also Janrain.)
  • GUI — Acronym for graphical user interface; a visual way for people to interact with computers.


  • HTML — Acronym for Hypertext Markup Language; standardized system for tagging text to display font, color, graphics, and hyperlinks on web pages and emails.


  • Intranet — A local or restricted website. Often used for internal audiences to access information and resources.
  • IP address — Acronym for Internet Protocol address; the digital location of a website.
  • ISP — Acronym for internet service provider; a company that provides their customers with access to the internet.


  • Janrain — A social sharing and authentication tool that can integrate with websites, such as Luminate Online and TeamRaiser sites. Website visitors can use social media icons to easily share pages on their social networks or use single sign-on tools to log in to your site. Janrain is Blackbaud’s default social account tool as of January, 2016. (See also Gigya.)
  • JavaScript — A web or programming language. Can also be abbreviated JS.
  • JPG — Image format best for photographs. Can also be referenced as jpeg.


  • Kintera — A Blackbaud product that is used for content management (see CMS) and online marketing.


  • Major Gift — a gift which is of a different magnitude from the organization’s usual range of gifts and has the potential to have a significant impact on the organization.
  • Meme — A cultural item that is transmitted by repetition and replication; often a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by internet users.
  • Merchant account — A form of bank account that you can use to accept donations and payments. Can be connected with your website for online credit card donations.
  • Mobile-ready — Also known as mobile-optimized, mobile-friendly, or a responsive design; emails and websites that render well on a wide array of web browsers and mobile devices.


  • Navigation — “Menu” items on a website that allow site visitors to click through the website to quickly find the information they are seeking


  • Open authentication (OAuth) — An open standard for authorization, commonly used as a way for internet users to authorize websites or applications to access their information on other websites but without giving them the passwords.


  • Pagewrapper — For Blackbaud’s Luminate Online users, the overall look and feel of your website. Your site can have multiple pagewrappers for different campaigns or uses.
  • Participant Center — Online resources for peer-to-peer participants using Blackbaud’s TeamRaiser product. Area where participants can send emails, check their fundraising progress, and update their personal fundraising page content.
  • Permissions — What you allow administrators or end-users to have access to. For instance, an administrator has permissions to edit your website. But, a general constituent will not have that access to update your website.
  • Personalization — The ability to customize content for your constituents. For instance, in an email, instead of saying “Dear Friend,” you can say, “Dear John,” to insert the person’s first name.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) — Generally a fundraising term for crowd-sourcing fundraising for a cause.
  • PDF — A file format that is commonly used for downloads and to exchange documents more readily.
  • Pixel — One small physical dot on a digital element. Multiple pixels can make up larger images, like a picture.
  • Plugin — A small file or app that can be used along with another program. For instance, many browsers (like Chrome and Firefox) provide plugins for various tasks so you don’t need to leave the program.
  • PNG — Image format best for limited-color pictures, such as logos. Can be transparent.
  • Progress meter — A graphic indicator for campaign progress to see if you’ve met your goal.


  • Quality assurance (QA) — Any systematic process of checking to see whether a product or service being developed is meeting specified requirements.
  • Queue — A line or sequence of items awaiting their turn to be attended to (e.g., error messages in an “error queue” or print items waiting to print in a “print queue”).


  • Responsive — See Mobile-ready.
  • RSS — A type of web feed that allows users to access updates to online content in a standardized, computer-readable format. These feeds can, for example, allow a user to keep track of many different websites in a single news reader.
  • Recurring gift — An ongoing donation to your organization. Can be monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. Also known as a sustaining gift.


  • S-tags — “Session Tags” in Blackbaud’s Luminate Online product that allow one to pull dynamic content into a web page.
  • SaaS — Pronounced (Sass). Software as a service; a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.
  • SEO — Acronym for Search Engine Optimization; setting up a website for best search results in Google and other search engines.
  • Sidebar — An area to the right or left of the main content of a web page, most often used for secondary content purposes.
  • Single sign-on — A session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials (e.g., name and password) to access multiple applications.
  • Social media — Computer and web technologies that facilitate user creation and information sharing in virtual communities and with your personal networks of colleagues and connections. Examples of social media channels include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.
  • Soft Credit — When a donor receives recognition for a donation, but is not the primary donor and does not receive a tax-deduction for the donation.
  • Stationery — Typically the header and footer elements of an email or enewsletter that remains constant across different messages.
  • Stylesheet — A collection of style rules that that tells a browser how various styles are to be applied to HTML tags to present the document. Rules can be applied to all the basic HTML elements (see also CSS).
  • Sustaining gift — An ongoing donation to your organization. Can be monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. Also known as a recurring gift.


  • TIF —Acronym for Tagged Image Format File; a common high-quality image file type. Also known as TIFF.


  • UI — Also known as user interface.
  • Upsell — In Blackbaud’s TeamRaiser, an item such as a t-shirt or hat that can be sold to participants who are registering for a peer-to-peer fundraising event.
  • URL — Also known as a web address. For instance, www.google.com or www.example.com.
  • UX — Also known as user experience.


  • Venn diagram — A diagram that uses circles to represent data sets and their relationships; a good way to visualize your email audiences.


  • Welcome series — A series of emails or communications that are sent to constituents to welcome them to your organization and introduce them to your mission. Can be automatically generated based on the constituent’s actions. For instance, if a person signs up for your email newsletter and is new to your organization, they also can receive an email welcome series.
  • Widget — A stand-alone application that can be embedded into a website (e.g., a Twitter feed, calendar, or music player).
  • WYSIWYG — Acronym for What You See Is What You Get; refers to an editing tool similar to Word or common email tools that allow you to type and use an editing toolbar without seeing the code behind the content.

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