What is NGO?

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A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a non-profit, civil organization that operates outside the regulation and jurisdiction of the government. NGOs are also often referred to as civil society groups.

Organization of an NGO may be in the community level or national and international levels. NGOs have a specific cause or advocacy such as women’s rights, children’s welfare, and health advocacy to name a few. Most NGOs exist for political or social causes instead of commercial purposes.


The World Bank has categorized NGOs into two broad groups—operational and advocacy. Operational NGOs are those that are focused on developmental issues and projects. On the other hand, advocacy NGOs exist to promote a certain cause or advocacy. An NGO may be categorized under both.

Composition and funding

A big number of NGOs rely heavily on their volunteers or members for their operations while some also have paid staff. A majority of the NGOs have both volunteers and paid staff working full-time.

Since NGOs do not exist for profits, and then they rely on funding from various sources such as membership fees, private donors—individual or corporate, sale of products and services and grants from bigger organization even NGOs. NGOs may be independent of the government, but some NGOs also depend largely on funds coming from the governments.

NGOs also are known experts in their field or advocacy as some of them also have their research on their causes.

NGOs may also be considered as a watch dog of a nation or society as they check the performance of the government in issues affecting their causes. These organizations also lobby and can influence law-makers on certain national policies.

NGOs also push for discourse of a certain issue on a national level as NGOs also seek for political participation of the citizenry on certain issues by providing education to empower citizens.

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