What is a NGO?

What is a NGO?
Tony Koehn
AGSM 653
In a broadest sense:
• Not based on government
• Non profit making
Can vary depending on function:
In U.S.: Private Voluntary Organizations
In Africa: Voluntary Development
Definition – World Bank
“The diversity of NGOs strains any simple definition. They include
many groups and institutions that are entirely or largely
independent of government and that have primarily humanitarian or
cooperative rather than commercial objectives. They are private
agencies in industrial countries that support international
development; indigenous groups organized regionally or nationally;
and member-groups in villages. NGOs include charitable and
religious associations that mobilize private funds for development,
distribute food and family planning services and promote community
organization. They also include independent cooperatives,
community associations, water-user societies, women’s groups and
pastoral associations. Citizen groups that raise awareness and
influence policy are also NGOs”
Definition – cont’d
Impossible to give one unique answer, but
NGOs have following characteristics:
1. Engaging in suffering relief activities
2. Promoting interest of the poor
3. Protecting the environment
4. Providing basic social services
5. Advocating community development
1. Charitable: Needs of the poor/disaster relief
(Feed the Hungry, Red Cross)
2. Service: Provision of health, family planning or
education (Planned Parenthood)
3. Participatory: Self-help project with local
people involvement (Habitat for Humanity)
4. Empowering: Help poor people develop a
clearer understanding of social, political, and
economic factors (Amnesty International)
Typology – cont’d
Level of operation:
1. Community-based organizations
2. Citywide organizations
3. National NGOs
4. International NGOs
Typology – cont’d
Key Issues:
1. Environment
2. Labor Standard
3. Poverty
4. Globalization
5. Animal Rights
NGO facts
1. Began in 1800s as catalyst for social reform
(Red Cross – 1859, Save the Children Fund
after WWI)
Huge Growth in 1990’s (International NGOs:
1988- 8579 1996- 23,135 UIA data).
Growth in membership (Worldwide Fund for
Nature: 2000- @5.7 million members 1985570,000)
Varying size (1 person to thousands)
NGO facts – cont’d
• Forest Stewardship Council: 15 full-time
employees, 7 years old, leading certifier in forest
products (year 2000 data)
• Green Peace: In 1991, nearly 3 million members,
offices in 32 countries, budget of $146 million,
established in 1971
• Effectiveness regardless of size:
RAN & Chiquita
Forest Stewardship Council & Home Depot
Role of NGOs in globalizing world
Per Boutros-Ghali in 1995
“ Non-governmental organizations are a basic
element in the representation of the modern
world. And their participation in international
organizations is in a way a guarantee of the
latter’s political legitimacy…From the stand point
of global democratization, we need the
participation of international public opinion and
the mobilizing powers of non-governmental
Role of NGOs – cont’d
1. Increasing role in development
• From relief services (logistics
management) to development services
(strategic management)
2. Creating a smaller, more interdependent,
global community
• Internet: Bring forth issues to many
Check these out!
List of NGOs:
Union of International Associations:
Textile activist:
Definition of an NGO:
Academics Studying Nike: