The Language of Giving

  • Advancement
Mallory Sussman, Development Manager

Welcome to Aspen Academy's newest blog series on development. Each week we will offer information on development strategies and best practices, share updates from Aspen Academy's development office, and discuss current trends, terms and tactics in philanthropy. At the conclusion of each blog post we will also include references and resources for continued learning.


As in any area of practice, development has a language of its very own. More than simply terminology, development language serves as both a utilitarian and theoretical tool to frame our discussions around giving, and can have a very significant impact on the outcome of our efforts. The language of giving is more than a glossary of vocabulary words; the language of giving holds a space - full of passion, possibility, and inspiration – to demonstrate commitment to a cause you care about.

Today, we will explore a few common terms: development, fundraising, solicitation and advancement, examining their distinctions and application here at Aspen Academy.

So what is development and how is different from fundraising?

While the two terms are often used interchangeably outside of a development office, they represent two uniquely intertwined concepts:

difference between fundraising and developement

Development is relational in nature: we spend time getting to know Aspen families and students, learning about their desires for their education, their communities and their futures. We work with our faculty, staff and leadership to identify areas of need, opportunities for growth, and creative ways to channel our resources in support of Aspen Academy's mission. Our advancement staff works diligently to strengthen our transparency and communication around the outcomes and impact of our efforts. By igniting passions and inspiring loyalty amongst our community members, we successfully raise the funds necessary to serve our school today and prepare our students for tomorrow.

Solicitation, or asking a person to commit resources to an organization, is the bridge that connects development with fundraising. While development focuses on long term cultivation and stewardship, striving to create powerful and life-changing connections, fundraising enables our development team to seek contributions for near term goals. Fundraising typically centers on a specific event or cause and is transactional in nature. Fundraising is a key component of a successful development program. Family favorites like Grandparents and Special Friends Day and our annual Gala represent fundraising events and are critical components to our overall development strategy.

Here at Aspen development is an integral part of a larger effort: Advancement. Advancement is "the action of continually moving toward an institution's vision," and the goal of Aspen Academy's advancement office is to "build and sustain a financially secure future through managing enrollment, cultivating a culture of philanthropy, and practicing disciplined financial management that accounts for both internal and external economic drivers." Development, fundraising and solicitation are just a few of the mechanisms we utilize in pursuit of this goal.

If you are interested in learning more about Development or the other functions of our Advancement office: Admissions, and Marketing and Communications please feel free to reach out to:

  • Lara Knuettel, Director of Advancement
  • Steve Goslee, Admissions Manager
  • Mallory Sussman, Development Manager
  • Roberta Vallina, Marketing and Communications Manager

Additional readings on the language of giving: