European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Glossary. 2009.
A beneficiary in the broadest sense is a person, or other legal entity, who receives money or other benefits from a benefactor. For example, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy is the person who receives the payment of the amount of insurance after the death of the insured.
Most beneficiaries are designed to designate where the assets will go when the owner(s) dies. However, if the primary beneficiary or beneficiaries are not alive or do not qualify under restrictions, the assets will probably pass to contingent beneficiaries.
In the context of development aid projects, the term "beneficiaries" refer to the persons and the communities that use the project outputs.