The Meaning of NGO: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been curious about the definition of NGO? This guide will provide you with all of the info you need on the abbreviation NGO, including its definition, usage, examples, and more!

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What does the abbreviation NGO stand for?

According to Investopedia and Candid Learning, NGO most often stands for non-governmental organization. A non-governmental organization is a non-profit group that has no government affiliation and functions independently of any such government. These are sometimes also called civil societies. Non-governmental organizations are organized at many different levels, from an international level all the way down to a community level. These are often formed in order to aid in some humanitarian or environmental cause. These nonprofit organizations often deal with human rights, animal rights,, environmental advocacy, or some other organization that is advocating for the public good. NGOs operate independently of any federal government or political parties, as well as the United Nations. Some of these are international organizations while others are much smaller. NGOs might attempt to alter foreign policy, implement grassroots campaigns, or advocate for other rights, like healthcare.

There are two different types of NGOs. These include operational NGOs. and advocacy NGOs. Operational NGOs focus on designing and implementing development projects, whereas advocacy NGOs are responsible for defending and or promoting some specific cause. Advocacy NGOs often aim to influence public policy and other governmental organizations. NGOs are most often non-profit and private organizations that have no affiliation with the government. Some NGOs pay a staff of employees from their revenue, while others are predominantly run on a volunteer basis.

NGOs can be funded in many different ways. Some rely on private donations from large donors, some sell goods and services to pay for the cost to run their business. Other NGOs rely on grants, and some charge membership dues to make ends meet. While NGOs are independent from the government, many of them rely on government funding. Some large NGOs have million or billion-dollar budgets. 

There are a few different specific types of NGOs. The first is an INGO, which stands for International NGO. As the name implies, INGOs are non-governmental organizations that operate internationally, free from any governmental  association. There are also GONGOS, which are government-organized NGOs. This term is sometimes considered derogatory. This is a bit of a gray area, as GONGOs are considered government-backed but not government-affiliated. A QUANGO is also a derogatory term used by the British to describe a quasi-autonomous NGO. The senior officials of these NGOs are appointed by the government, though they still maintain that they do not have a government affiliation and they rely on public funding. There are also ENGOs, which are environmental NGOs. These types of organizations are non-governmental organizations that rely specifically on environmental welfare. An example of this would be an organization like Greenpeace.

According to GRDC, NGOs play six important roles. The first role is the development and operation of some infrastructure. NGOs are responsible for developing an internal infrastructure as well as developing community-based infrastructures for their specific organizations. For example, an organization like Habitat for Humanity would develop infrastructure for community housing.  

Second, NGOs are responsible for supporting innovation, demonstration, and other pilot projects. They are responsible for overcoming shortcomings that governmental organizations may have in this respect, as they can act quicker without the red tape surrounding government bureaucracy. They are also responsible for facilitating communication and acting as a liaison between the community and the government. As an impartial organization with no affiliation to any government or political parties, NGOs are responsible for facilitating such communication.

NGOs are also responsible for providing technical assistance and training to assist the community and the government. They are responsible for researching, monitoring, and evaluating their internal activities, as well as advocating for and with the poor. NGOs are responsible for uplifting underprivileged members of their community and providing a voice for people, animals or things such as the environment who cannot speak for themselves. NGOs are important to the facilitation of improving society as they can act independently of a government without the red tape that surrounds bureaucracy. While NGOs have no government affiliation, they can still work with and advocate for change within a government. 

According to People Browsr, below are a list of the top ten most influential NGOs in the world. 

  • Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)
  • Cure Violence
  • PATH
  • Mercy Corps
  • CERES Coalition
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Heifer International
  • Partners in Health
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Foundation for Environmental Education

The abbreviation NGO can also stand for a number of other things, according to The Free Dictionary. While these definitions are still accurate, they are far less common than the meaning “non-governmental organization.” If you do plan to use one of these secondary definitions, make sure to do so with caution. You would not want to confuse someone. If you are going to use one of these secondary definitions, make sure you provide the reader or listener with proper context so that they can decipher which meaning you intend. You would not want someone thinking that you meant non-governmental organization when you really intended to mean non gazetted officer!

  • Ngml Object
  • National Gas Outlet
  • Newsgator Online
  • Niet Gouvernementele Organisatie (Dutch: Non-Governmental Organization)
  • Non Gazetted Officer
  • Never Grow Old (Cranberries song)
  • Nagoya, Japan – Komaki (Airport Code)

Overall, the abbreviation NGO stands for non-governmental organization. A non-governmental organization is a non-profit organization that is not affiliated with any government or political party. These organizations often advocate for humanitarian ventures, animal rights, environmental rights, and other human rights. Non-governmental organizations exist at many different levels, from a small community organization to large international NGOs.