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 >>
Related Articles
  1. Financial Advisor

    NGOs Millennials Like To Donate To

    To appeal to millennials, NGOs must adapt to new approaches to giving.
  2. Insights

    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.
  3. Insights

    $46 Billion Industry Of Philanthropy

    Philanthropic giving is not just about money - millions of volunteers donate their time to worthy causes every year.
  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. Investing

    The U.S. Ranks 14th In Financial Literacy

    The U.S. is home to many millionaires, but the average American falls behind when it comes to financial literacy.
  6. Insights

    The World's 8 Richest Men Have Wealth Equal to Half the Population

    As business and political leaders meet at the World Economic Forum's annual event in Davos, international NGO Oxfam has released a scathing report on global wealth inequality.
  7. Financial Advisor

    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.
  8. Personal Finance

    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.
  9. Managing Wealth

    Nonprofit Millionaires

    Many nonprofit CEOs and other top employees are bringing home the big bucks.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Nonprofit Organization

    A business entity that is granted tax-exempt status by the Internal ...
  2. Master of Public Administration - MPA

    A Master's level degree in public affairs that prepares recipients ...
  3. Nonprofit Marketing

    Activities and strategies employed by a nonprofit organization ...
  4. Accountants for the Public Interest - API

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

    Climate finance is a finance channel by which developed economies ...
  6. 501(c)

    A subsection under the United States Internal Revenue Code. The ...
Hot Definitions
  1. Two And Twenty

    A type of compensation structure that hedge fund managers typically employ in which part of compensation is performance based. ...
  2. Market Capitalization

    The total dollar market value of all of a company's outstanding shares. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying ...
  3. Expense Ratio

    A measure of what it costs an investment company to operate a mutual fund. An expense ratio is determined through an annual ...
  4. Mezzanine Financing

    A hybrid of debt and equity financing that is typically used to finance the expansion of existing companies. Mezzanine financing ...
  5. Long Run

    A period of time in which all factors of production and costs are variable. In the long run, firms are able to adjust all ...
  6. Quasi Contract

    A legal agreement created by the courts between two parties who did not have a previous obligation to each other. A normal ...
Trading Center