A:

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a non-profit, citizen-based group that functions independently of government. NGOs, sometimes called civil societies, are organized on community, national and international levels to serve specific social or political purposes, and are cooperative, rather than commercial, in nature.

Examples of NGOs include those that support human rights, advocate for improved health or encourage political participation. Two broad groups of NGOs are identified by the World Bank: operational NGOs, which focus on development projects; and advocacy NGOs, which are organized to promote particular causes. Certain NGOs may fall under both categories simultaneously.

While the term "NGO" has various interpretations, it is generally accepted to include private organizations that operate without government control and that are non-profit and non-criminal. Other definitions further clarify NGOs as associations that are non-religious and non-military.

Some NGOs rely primarily on volunteers, while others support a paid staff. As non-profits, NGOs rely on a variety of sources for funding, including membership dues, private donations, the sale of goods and services, and grants. Despite their independence from government, some NGOs rely significantly on government funding.

Large NGOs may have budgets in the millions or billions of dollars.

A number of NGO variations exist, including:

  • BINGO: business-friendly international NGO (example: Red Cross)
  • ENGO: environmental NGO (Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund)
  • INGO: international NGO (Oxfam)
  • QUANGO; quasi-autonomous NGO (International Organization for Standardization - (ISO))
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do NGOs get funding?

    A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a non-profit, citizen-based group that functions independently of government. NGOs ... Read Answer >>
  2. Does the federal government fund any NGOs? Which ones?

    A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a non-profit, citizen-based group that functions independently of government. NGOs ... Read Answer >>
  3. Do nonprofit organizations pay taxes?

    Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code exempts qualified nonprofit organizations from federal taxes. ... Read Answer >>
  4. Do nonprofit organizations have working capital?

    Discover why financial reserves in the nonprofit world are equivalent to working capital used by for-profit businesses, and ... Read Answer >>
  5. What risks do organizations face when engaging in international finance activities?

    When an organization decides to engage in international financing activities, they also take on additional risk as well as ... Read Answer >>
  6. In what types of societies does limited government work best?

    See what a society needs to function with a limited government, and how social cooperation can be achieved through voluntary ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Popular Resources for Equity Research and Analysis: Chapter 3: Government Agencies and NGOs

    Many direct government agencies and NGOs maintain websites with robust and timely financial information. The Federal Reserve is top on the list and should be tracked by any parties interested ...
  2. Taxes

    NGOs Millennials Like To Donate To

    To appeal to millennials, NGOs must adapt to new approaches to giving.
  3. Economics

    The Pros and Cons of Being a Nonprofit

    Evaluating the tradeoffs organizations face when choosing between becoming a tax-exempt nonprofit or for-profit business with innovative ease.
  4. Taxes

    5 Steps To Forming A Tax-Exempt Nonprofit Corporation

    Before you tackle this challenge, know the challenges of forming and operating an official nonprofit organization.
  5. Entrepreneurship

    Social Finance Careers: Creating A Better World

    A financial career can be used to do more than just bring in profits. Find out how to get a career with a more social objective.
  6. Career Education & Resources

    Where to Find Non-Profit Finance Jobs

    The non-profit sector offers a stable selection of jobs for those who seek other types of fulfillment from their jobs than just purely financial.
  7. Personal Finance

    The U.S. Ranks 14th In Financial Literacy

    While the U.S. is the wealthiest country on the planet, the average American doesn't know much about basic financial matters.
  8. Taxes

    What IRS Form 1023 Is Used For

    To be treated as a tax-exempt organization, start by filling out this form.
  9. Taxes

    What IRS Form 990 Tells About a Nonprofit

    Want a picture of an organization's activities? This annual form, open to the public, sums up everything from salaries paid to missions accomplished.
  10. Popular Resources for Equity Research and Analysis: Chapter 1: Publicly Available and Free Resources

    Researching and analyzing stocks has never been easier. Below is a rather comprehensive list and detail of the most popular resources for equity research and analysis. Many of these resources ...
RELATED TERMS
  1. Master of Public Administration - MPA

    A Master's level degree in public affairs that prepares recipients ...
  2. Nonprofit Organization

    A business entity that is granted tax-exempt status by the Internal ...
  3. Nonprofit Marketing

    Activities and strategies employed by a nonprofit organization ...
  4. Not For Profit

    A not for profit organization is a type of organization that ...
  5. Accountants for the Public Interest - API

    An organization whose volunteer accountants provide free services ...
  6. Climate Finance

    Climate finance is a finance channel by which developed economies ...

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Yield Curve

    A line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality, but differing maturity ...
  2. Stop-Limit Order

    An order placed with a broker that combines the features of stop order with those of a limit order. A stop-limit order will ...
  3. Keynesian Economics

    An economic theory of total spending in the economy and its effects on output and inflation. Keynesian economics was developed ...
  4. Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications ...

    A member-owned cooperative that provides safe and secure financial transactions for its members. Established in 1973, the ...
  5. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles - GAAP

    The common set of accounting principles, standards and procedures that companies use to compile their financial statements. ...
  6. DuPont Analysis

    A method of performance measurement that was started by the DuPont Corporation in the 1920s. With this method, assets are ...
Trading Center