Glossary of Terms

  • Abstain– To refrain from voting
  • Accessible– Easy to approach, reach, enter, obtainable; attainable.
  • Accountable– Responsible; able to account for policies and actions undertaken; open and transparent.
  • Agenda– An outline for a meeting, with items to be noted, discussed and voted upon.
  • AGM– AGM stands for Annual General Meeting; a meeting of all members of an organisation, ordinarily held once a year.  Companies limited by guarantee are required to hold an AGM each calendar year and not separated by more than 15 months.
  • Aims– The specific changes/benefits an organisation is aiming for.
  • Ancillary– Of secondary importance.
  • Annual report– A report published by an organisation describing its activities over the past year.
  • Anonymous– Unknown
  • Appraisal– A review, usually annual, especially for staff performance.
  • Articles of association– Legal document for establishing a company, containing the rules that apply for running the company.  Also see memorandum of association. Assets register – An up to date listing of all your assets (equipment, etc).
  • Audit– Usually, a detailed examination of by an ‘auditor’ of an organisation’s financial statements and records for the purpose of determining that they are sufficiently accurate and properly representative.
  • Autonomous– Self-governing; independent; subject to its own laws only. Back-up – To copy computer files in case of loss.
  • Benevolent society– A type of friendly society used as a structure by a minority of voluntary organisations.
  • Board of Directors– The governing body of a company.
  • Boundaries– Something indicating borders or limits.
  • Certificate of incorporation– A certificate provided to companies by the Companies Registration Office.
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation– A possible future legal structure for organisations in the community and voluntary sector.
  • Charitable purposes– At the time of writing: relief of poverty; advancement of education; advancement of religion; or other purposes beneficial to the community.  (Will change if the Charities Bill 2006 is enacted.)
  • Charitable status– At the time of writing: having a CHY number.
  • Charities Regulator– A likely future regulating body for all charities that will be introduced if the Charities Bill 2006 is enacted.
  • CHY Number– A number provided by the Revenue Commissioners to organisations with charitable purposes, granting certain tax exemptions.
  • Code of conduct– A set of principles and expectations that are considered binding on any person who is a member of a particular group.
  • Commensurate– Having the same measure; proportionate.
  • Community organisation– A local not-for-profit organisation with a community development focus.
  • Company limited by guarantee without share capital– An organisation incorporated under the Companies Acts and registered with Companies Registration Office with members rather than shareholders; members guarantee a set amount (usually nominal) towards final debts.
  • Company secretary– By law a company must have a company secretary who is responsible for ensuring all the legal requirements of the company are met.
  • Complacency– A feeling of security and self satisfaction, often while unaware of some potential risk.
  • Comply– To act in accordance with another’s command, request, rule, or wish.
  • Confidential– Entrusted with secrets or private affairs.
  • Conflict of interest– This can occur if an individual or organisation ‘wears more than one hat’.
  • Consensus– Majority of opinion; general agreement.
  • Constitution– The governing document of an unincorporated association.
  • Consultancy– Providing (paid) expert advice/work.
  • Contract– An agreement between two or more parties, written or verbal and enforceable by law.
  • Contractor– A person or company that provides materials or labour for a service or job.
  • Copyright– The exclusive legal right given to an originator of information or other material to print, publish, perform, etc.
  • Consortium– A cooperative working arrangement among groups or institutions.
  • Cooperative– Working or acting together willingly for a common purpose or benefit.  Also the commonly used term for an industrial and provident society.
  • Co-opt– To appoint to a committee on invitation by the current committee.
  • Data Controller– A person, defined under the Data Protection Acts, responsible for keeping and using information about people, whether on computer or in manual files.
  • Deed of trust– The governing document of a trust.
  • De facto director– A person who has not been validly appointed but who in effect occupies the position of, and acts as if s/he were a director.  Considered a director for company law purposes.
  • Delegate– To entrust work to another; a person authorised to act as a representative for another.
  • Discrimination– The less favourable treatment or different types of people.
  • Director– One of a group of persons chosen to control or govern the affairs of a company.
  • Diversity– Difference; variation.
  • Dividend– A sum of money paid regularly by a company to its shareholders.
  • EGM– Extraordinary General Meeting: any general meeting of the members of the organisation that is not the AGM.
  • Ethos– The underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group.
  • Evaluation– Using monitoring and other information to make judgements on how an organisation, project or programme is doing.
  • Equality– The quality of being the same in value.
  • Equity– Something that is fair and just.
  • Executive Director– Company Director who is involved in the day to day management of the company.
  • Exempt– Free from an obligation or liability imposed on others.
  • Fraudulent– Dishonest in the eyes of the law. Friendly society – An organisation established under the Friendly Societies Acts 1896-1977 for various purposes, mostly to provide small life assurance benefits, sick benefits and death benefits to members, to provide benefits to non members or to promote particular activities or interests.
  • Governance– Taking overall responsibility for the work of an organisation.
  • Governing Body– The grouping of people in an organisation who undertake the governance role.
  • HACCP– Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point: a new food regulation from the Food Safety Authority Ireland which has been enforced since January 2006, requiring that all food handlers work to a HACCP plan.
  • Headhunting– Actively searching for new employees or committee members.
  • Hierarchical structure– A structure with a ruling body organised into orders or ranks with each subordinate to the one above it.
  • Honorary– A title or position conferred for honour only (unpaid).
  • ICT– Information and communications technology (computers, telephones, etc).
  • Impact– The effect that an organisation has on wider society (that is, beyond its direct users).
  • Implementation– Putting ideas and plans into action.
  • Incorporation– The process by which an organisation takes on legal status.
  • Induction– The introduction and training process for new committee or staff members.  Sometimes known as ‘orientation’.
  • Industrial and provident society– An organisation incorporated under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893-1978.  Most are profit making and allow distribution of profits amongst members.
  • Inputs– Resources that an organisation uses to further its goals.
  • Intern– A student or trainee who works, often without pay, to gain work experience.
  • Liable– (Legally) responsible.
  • Management– Organising the work of an organisation.
  • Memorandum of association– Legal document for establishing a company, containing the aims and powers of the company.  Also see articles of association.
  • Minutes– Written record of the proceedings of a meeting.
  • Mission statement– A short statement of the overall purpose of the organisation, usually concentrating on the difference it wants to make and defining the values that it will work by.
  • Monitoring– Routine and systematic collection and recording of information that can be used for evaluation purposes.
  • Multi-agency– Multiple agencies working together to provide integrated services.
  • Networking– The coming together of organisations to exchange information, contacts and experience for mutually beneficial purposes.  Also linking computers so that they can share data. NGO – NGO stands for Non Governmental Organisation, a term for the various types of charitable, social, civil society and other not for profit organisations.  In Ireland, the term is used mainly in the context of internationally active development organisations and environmental organisations.
  • Nominate– To propose a candidate for election.
  • Non executive director– A director who is not involved in the day to day management of the company, but nevertheless has the same responsibilities as any other director.
  • Objectives– The practical steps an organisation will take to accomplish its aims.
  • Officer– A committee member with a specific role.
  • Operations– The day to day work of an organisation.
  • Orientation– See induction.
  • Outcomes– The changes or benefits resulting from services and activities.
  • Outputs– What the organisation does; the ‘service’ it delivers.
  • Parameters– Limits; boundaries; guidelines.
  • Partnership– An arrangement between organisations for joint action.
  • Policy– A clear statement of intent about how an organisation will behave over certain issues.
  • Presenter– The person completing Company Registration Office documentation.
  • Proactive– Acting in advance to deal with an expected challenge.
  • Proofing– Assessing the potentially positive, negative or neutral impact of proposals.
  • Protocol– A code of correct conduct.
  • PRSA– Personal Retirement Savings account, a simplified type of pension.
  • PRSI – A social welfare tax paid by employees and employers.
  • Quorum– The number of members of a group or organisation required to be present at a meeting to transact business legally, usually a majority.
  • Quorate– A meeting is quorate if a quorate is present.
  • Ratify– To give formal consent to a decision, thereby making it officially valid.
  • Reasonable accommodation– Providing special treatment or facilities for people with disabilities if, without these, it would be unduly difficult or impossible to access and use goods/services, or to access, participate in, advance in, and receive training for employment.
  • Reconcile– To make one account consistent with another, usually used as a financial term.
  • Registered office– The official address of a company.
  • Remunerate– To pay someone for services or work.
  • Rules– The governing document of a friendly society.
  • Risk analysis and management– The process of controlling the activities of an organisation to minimise the effects of risks on it.
  • Secondments– The temporary transfer of a member of staff (‘seconded’) to another organisation or another department within an organisation.
  • Server– A computer or computer programme that manages to access to a centralised resource or service in a network.
  • Service level agreement– Usually, a contract between a statutory agency and a voluntary organisation to provide services on behalf of that agency.
  • Shadow director– Any person other than a professional advisor, with those instructions the directors of the company normally comply.  A shadow director has many of the legal responsibilities of a director.
  • SMART– Objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.
  • Social finance– Provision of finance by organisations that seek a social return or social dividend, as well as a financial return.
  • SORP– Statement of Recommended Practice: a set of standards issued by the Accounting Standards Board and Charity Commission in the UK.  It is mandatory for charities in the UK but not in Ireland.
  • Special Resolution– In company law, special resolutions include those seeking a change in the memorandum or articles of association, changing the name of the company or a voluntary winding up.  Not less than 21 days notice must be given of special resolutions.  In addition they must be passed by 75% at least of the votes cast by members.
  • Staggered replacement– To arrange replacements in alternating or overlapping time periods.
  • Stakeholder– Any person or body that has an interest in what an organisation does.
  • Statement of terms and conditions– The formal name for an employment contract.
  • Statutory– Relating to the structures and processes of the state. Strategy – A planned way of accomplishing specific goals.
  • Subcommittee– A smaller committee dealing with specific issues that must report back to a main committee.
  • Subscriber– The original seven or more members of a company limited by guarantee who sign the memorandum and articles of association.
  • Sustainability– Ensuring that an organisation can generate sufficient revenue to be financially viable.  Also, adopting environmental policies and practices which minimise the impact of the organisation on the environment.
  • SWOT analysis– A strategic planning tool which identifies an organisation’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
  • Tax reference number– A number provided by the revenue Commissioners to enable an organisation to deal with tax matters.
  • Template– Anything that serves as a pattern or a model.
  • Tender– Make a formal written offer to carry out work or supply goods at a fixed price.
  • Teoranta– The Irish word for Limited, as in a Limited Company.  It is abbreviated to Teo.
  • Terms of reference– A brief written document outlining the purpose and parameters of a committee.
  • Trademark– Any sign which distinguishes the goods or services of one company or organisation from that of another.  Trade marks can be registered.
  • Trust– A body without legal status usually set up to hold funds or property on behalf of a group.
  • Trustee– Person legally charged with responsibility for a trust and its funds.
  • Values statement– A statement outlining the principles of and basic beliefs about what really matters to your organisation and that guides how things should be done.
  • Vision statement– A statement outlining why your organisation was founded and why it has continued to exist; the ideal you are trying to achieve.
  • Voluntary organisation– A self governing organisation that is separate from government does not distribute profits to owners/directors and has a meaningful level of voluntary involvement.
  • Unincorporated association– An organisation that has no legal status of its own in the eyes of the law.
  • Volunteer– A person who, of their own free will, undertakes unpaid work for the benefit of others.
  • Working group– A time limited group set up to progress a specific issue.