What is an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)?

What is an NGO?

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a non-profit organization that operates independently of any government. NGOs, sometimes called civil society, organize at community, national and international levels to serve social or political goals, such as humanitarian causes or the environment.

key takeaways

  • NGOs or NGOs play an important role in international development, aid and philanthropy.
  • By definition, NGOs are not-for-profit organizations, but their annual budgets can run into the millions or billions of dollars.
  • As such, NGOs rely on a variety of funding sources, from private donations and dues to government donations.

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About NGOs

While “NGO” has a variety of interpretations, the term is generally accepted to include non-profit private organizations that operate outside of government control. Some NGOs rely mainly on volunteers, while others support paid staff. The World Bank has identified two broad categories of NGOs:

  • Operational NGO focused on the design and implementation of development projects.
  • Advocacy NGOs that defend or promote specific causes and seek to influence public policy.

Some NGOs may fall into both categories. Examples of NGOs include those that support human rights, advocate for better health, or encourage political participation.

How NGOs get funding

As non-profit organizations, NGOs rely on a variety of funding sources, including:

  • dues
  • private donation
  • sales of goods and services
  • grant

Despite being independent from the government, some NGOs rely heavily on government funding. Large NGOs may have budgets of millions or billions of dollars.

Types of NGOs

There are many variations of the NGO acronym, including:

  • INGO: International Non-Governmental Organization. For example, the Council of Europe International NGO Conference consists of more than 300 participating international NGOs.
  • GONGO: This means a government-organized non-governmental organization, usually in a derogatory sense. foreign policy Describe GONGOs as government-backed NGOs designed to advocate on behalf of authoritarian regimes on the international stage.
  • QUANGO: Primarily a British term, usually with a derogatory connotation. quango is a quasi-autonomous NGO that relies on public funding. Its senior officials are appointed by the government.A sort of Financial Times The review article wrote that quangos were seen as useless and were often staffed by quangocrates.
  • ENGO: Environmental NGO such as Greenpeace or World Wildlife Fund. In addition to advocating for the environment, both groups operate internationally. They are often referred to simply as NGOs.
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