NGO stands for Non-Governmental Organisation. The World Bank defines NGO’s as “organisations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development”.
Famous NGOs include for example WWF, The Red Cross, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres or translated, “Doctors Without Borders”).
The numbers of NGOs that operate globally are estimated at 40,000. As of March 2011 there were 4,090 national NGO’s registered in the UK.
NGO’s are a fairly varied group. There are numerous acronyms, which describe their activity. You may have heard of the term “quango”; this is a “quasi autonomous” NGO, but what do you think “Dongo”, “Bingo” or “Gongo” stands for? See the list of NGO acronyms below.
NGOs sometimes rely on volunteers to deliver their programmes. This can be a great way for you to gain work-experience.
NGOs also employ full-time staff who are paid to create and manage their programmes. So where does the money come from to pay for the work that the NGOs do?
NGOs raise money through fundraising, applications to private trusts, the Government, the European Commission, or other national and international organisations. It is thought that public money, which is raised by taxation, should be re-invested for the public good. But increasingly the public, through government, wants to make sure it is getting value for money, and now expects the private sector (companies and businesses) to fund programmes ‘for-good’.
This helps some businesses prove that they are responsible and that they care for people and the planet, not just their own profits. This money is often given as sponsorship and the partnership between the NGO and business sometimes helps companies look better. Think of how Fairtrade branding helps to sell products in a supermarket.
Some questions to ponder…
What impact is the commercial world having on your wellbeing and your environment? Should the private sector have a corporate, social responsibility? Should they do more/ less? Who will pay if they do not?
BINGO - Big International NGO
DONGO - Donor Organised NGO
ENGO - Environmental NGO
GONGO - Government Operated NGO
INGO - International NGO
MANGO - Market Advocacy NGO
QUANGO - Quasi-Autonomous NGO