Non-governmental organizations (NOGs)
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are legally constituted corporations created by natural or legal people that operate independently from any form of government. The term originated from the United Nations, and normally refers to organizations that are not a part of a government and are not conventional for-profit businesses. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization. In the United States, NGOs are typically non-profit organizations, internationally, ILGA is a non-profit NGO. The term is usually applied only to organizations that pursue wider social aims that have political aspects, but are not openly political organizations such as political parties.
The number of NGOs operating in the United States is estimated at 1.5 million. Russia has 277,000 NGOs. India is estimated to have had around 3.3 million NGOs in 2009, just over one NGO per 400 Indians, and many times the number of primary schools and primary health centres in India.
NGOs are difficult to define and classify, and the term 'NGO' is not used consistently. As a result, there are many different classifications in use. The most common NGOs use a framework that includes 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, or development work. An NGO's level of operation indicates the scale at which an organization works, such as local, regional, international or national.
One of the earliest mentions of the term "NGO" was in 1945, when the United Nations (UN) was created. The UN, which is an inter-governmental organization, made it possible for certain approved specialized international non-state agencies - or non-governmental 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-profit, non-criminal and not simply an opposition political party.
Types of Non-Governmental Organizations
NGO types can be understood by their orientation and level of cooperation.
NGO type by level of orientation:
Charitable Orientation often involves a top-down paternalistic effort with little participation by the "beneficiaries". It includes NGOs with activities directed toward meeting the needs of the poor.
Service Orientation includes NGOs with activities such as the provision of health, family planning or education services in which the programme is designed by the NGO and people are expected to participate in its implementation and in receiving the service.
Participatory Orientation is characterized by self-help projects where local people are involved particularly in the implementation of a project by contributing cash, tools, land, materials, labour etc. In the classical community development project, participation begins with the need definition and continues into the planning and implementation stages.
Empowering Orientation aims to help poor people develop a clearer understanding of the social, political and economic factors affecting their lives, and to strengthen their awareness of their own potential power to control their lives. There is maximum involvement of the beneficiaries with NGOs acting as facilitators.
NGO type by level of cooperation:
Community-based Organizations (CBOs) arise out of people's own initiatives. They can be responsible for raising the consciousness of the urban poor, helping them to understand their rights in accessing needed services, and providing such services.
Citywide Organizations include organizations such as chambers of commerce and industry, coalitions of business, ethnic or educational groups, and associations of community organizations.
National NGOs include national organizations such as the Red Cross, YMCAs/YWCAs, professional associations, etc. Some have state and city branches and assist local NGOs.
International NGOs range from secular agencies such as Redda Barna and Save the Children organizations, OXFAM, CARE, Ford Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation to religiously motivated groups. They can be responsible for funding local NGOs, institutions and projects and implementing projects.
Apart from "NGO", there are many alternative or overlapping terms in use, including: third sector organization (TSO), non-profit organization (NPO), voluntary organization (VO), civil society organization (CSO), grassroots organization (GO), social movement organization (SMO), private voluntary organization (PVO), self-help organization (SHO) and non-state actors (NSAs).
Non-governmental organizations are a heterogeneous group.
Development, Environment and Human Rights NGOs
NGOs are organizations that work in many different fields, but the term is generally associated with those seeking social transformation and improvements in quality of life. Development NGOs are the most highly visible sector, and includes both international and local organizations, as well as those working in humanitarian emergency sector. Many are associated with international aid and voluntary donation, but there are also NGOs that choose not to take funds from donors and try to generate funding in other ways, such as selling handicrafts or charging for services.
Environmental NGOs are another sub-sector, and sometimes overlap with development NGOs. An example is Greenpeace. (see: List of Environmental NGOs). Just like other NGOs networks, transnational environmental networks might acquire a variety of benefits in sharing information with other organizations, campaigning towards an issue, and exchanging contact information. Since transnational environmental NGOs advocate for different issues like public goods, such as pollution in the air, deforestation of areas and water issues, it is more difficult for them to give their campaigns a human face than NGOs campaigning directly for human rights issues.Some of the earliest forms of transnational environmental NGOs started to appear after the Second World War with the creation of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). After the UN was formed in 1945, more environmental NGO started to emerge in order to address more specific environmental issues. In 1946, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was created with the purpose of advocating and representing scientific issues and collaboration among environmental NGOs. In 1969, the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) was funded to increase and improve collaboration among environmentalists. This collaboration was later reinforced and stimulated with the creation of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program in 1971. In 1972, the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, tried to address the issues on Sweden’s plead for international intervention on trans-boundary pollution from other European industrialized nations.
Transnational environmental NGOs have taken on diverse issues around the globe, but one of the best-known cases involving the work of environmental NGO’s can be traced back to Brazil during the 1980s. The United States got involved with deforestation concerns due to the allegations of environmentalists dictating deforestation to be a global concern, and after 1977 the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act added an Environmental and Natural Resources section.
Human rights NGOs may also overlap with those in development, but are another distinct category. Amnesty International is perhaps one of the best-known.