A nongovernmental organization (NGO) is a not-for-profit organization that is independent from state or international governmental organizations.
They are usually funded by donations but some avoid formal funding altogether and are run primarily by volunteers. NGOs are highly diverse groups of organizations engaged in a wide range of activities, and take different forms in different parts of the world. Some may have charitable status, while others may be registered for tax exemption based on recognition of social purposes. Others may be fronts for political, religious, or other interests.
NGOs are difficult to define, and the term is not always used consistently. In some countries the term NGO is applied to an organization that, in another country, would be called an NPO (nonprofit organization), and vice-versa. There are many different classifications of NGO in use. The most common focus is on "orientation" and "level of operation."
- An NGO's orientation
refers to the type of activities it takes on. These activities might include human rights, environmental, improving health, or development work.
- An NGO's level of operation
indicates the scale at which an organization works, such as local, regional, national, or international.
The term "nongovernmental organization" was first coined in 1945, when the United Nations (UN) was created. The UN, itself an intergovernmental organization, made it possible for certain approved specialized international non-state agencies — i.e., nongovernmental organizations — to be awarded observer status at its assemblies and some of its meetings. Later the term became used more widely. Today, according to the UN, any kind of private organization that is independent from government control can be termed an NGO, provided it is not-for-profit, non-prevention, and not simply an opposition political party.
One characteristic these diverse organizations share is that their nonprofit status means they are not hindered by short-term financial objectives. Accordingly, they are able to devote themselves to issues that occur across longer time horizons, such as climate change, malaria prevention, or a global ban on landmines. Public surveys reveal that NGOs often enjoy a high degree of public trust, which can make them a useful — but not always sufficient — proxy for the concerns of society and stakeholders.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Internet. Accessed on June 14, 2016.