NGO Full Form is Non-Governmental Organization. NGO refers to associations which neither belongs to the ‘for-profit’ business nor to the government. It is formed by the citizens of a nation and is normally funded by foundations, governments, businesses and individual citizens. According to the World Bank, NGOs can be classified as (a) Operational NGOs that are associated with various project developments, (b) Advocacy NGOs that are associated with promoting a cause.
NGO holds greater relevance, especially when these organizations have started playing major roles in the promotion and development of many goals directed at various issues of the society such as child labor, freedom of speech, gay rights, and other issues. Few of popular NGOs in India include Deepalaya, Smile Foundation, Pratham, Sammaan Foundation, Udaan Welfare Foundation, HelpAge India, etc…
In fact there are variations in NGO, such as (1) Business-friendly International or Big International or BINGO – e.g. Red Cross, (2) International NGO or INGO – e.g. Oxfam, (3) Environmental NGO or ENGO – e.g. World Wildlife Fund, (4) Quasi Autonomous NGO or QUANGO – e.g. ISO, (5) Religious International NGO or RINGO – e.g. Catholic Relief Services, (5) Donor Organized NGO or DONGO, (6) Technical Assistance NGO or TANGO, (7) Market Advocacy NGO or MANGO.
NGO Full Form – Additional Information
As the name is itself quite evident, an NGO does not function as a government body or for-profit business. It is an independent organization, largely free from State control. These organizations are generally established by citizens, but there are many NGOs that obtain their funding from corporations, governments, other foundations, and even private persons. These organizations are usually run by volunteers. As mentioned before, these organizations are some of the most diverse organizations in the world, taking up a myriad of issues relevant to the society at large. There are NGOs, which are established for charitable purposes whereas many NGOs become registered for tax exemption depending upon the social cause the organization is pursuing.
There are millions of NGOs currently functioning from across different parts of the world, with the United States of America alone having approximately 1.5 million of NGOs. In Russia, there are more than 300,000 NGOs active. As far as India is concerned, there are more than two million NGOs in the country, with one NGO for every 600 people and this number clearly exceeds the number of primary schools and health centers in the country. There is no definite definition of the word ‘NGO’ and the word is understood in varying senses.
For example, in many countries, the word NGO is often used to refer to an organization, which in any other country would be called Non-profit Organization (abbreviated as NPO). NGOs have many classifications and the focus is made on the stage of operation and orientation of an NGO to subject it to classification. The word orientation refers to the kind of activities that an NGO undertakes such as labor, women’s rights, gay rights, etc. The stage or level of operation refers to the scale at which the NGO undertakes its functions such as whether the functions of an NGO are regional or national or international.
The first time the word NGO was used was in the year 1945, at the time of the foundation of the United Nations. (abbreviated as UN). The UN is originally a non-governmental organization and has come up with certain resolutions that give certain specialized NGOs observer status. Now it has become general understanding that an organization without any governmental control can be called as NGO. This, however, comes with a proviso and that is the organization must be non-profit, and non-prevention. Now that we have finished off with the introductory segment, it is time we dealt with other facets of an NGO. We shall begin with the classification of an NGO.
Classification of an NGO
As mentioned in the introduction segment, an NGO is classified on the basis of orientation and level of operation. Both of these classifying heads shall be discussed under this segment.
Orientation as a basis of classification
The following are some of the examples that show classification of the NGOS on the basis of their respective orientations:
Charitable organization: The NGOs which are engaged in collection and use of charitable funds to discharge their functions come under this head. These NGOs are usually directed towards meeting the requirements of the needy people.
Empowering Orientation: It is yet another classification on the basis of orientation. NGOs with such orientation are aimed at helping poor people in a manner so as to develop a better understanding of them on various economic, social, and political factors that affect them. These NGOs endeavor to make poor persons aware of their rights and various ways to control their life.
Service Orientation: AN NGO with this category of orientation engages in activities such as family planning, health management, and education. NGOs conduct various programs to facilitate participation of needy persons.
Participatory Orientation: The NGO with a participatory orientation are defined by various self-help programs conducted by them. In such programs, local people participate in its implementation by pooling in resources such as labor, money, land materials, etc.
Level of Operation as a basis of classification
As mentioned before, the level of operation refers to the scale with which an organization organizes its programs and discharges many of its functions. Under this head, we shall discuss various types of categories under the Level of Operation Classification.
International NGOs: The name is in itself clear about the scale. These NGOs function at an International level and have their operations expanded to various international jurisdictions. Some of the examples of such NGOs include Greenpeace, Save the Children, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and OXFAM International, etc.
National NGOs: These NGOs have limited their functions and programs within the domestic boundaries. They have a prominent presence in the country, with many offices and branches in different cities and towns. Some of the examples, of such organizations, are CRY, etc.
City-wide NGOs: The area of functioning reduces to a particular city. These NGOs include small ethnic groups, educational groups, community organizations, etc.
Community-based NGOs: Such NGOs often result out of independent initiatives of people. Most of them take up a common, regional agenda to spread. For example, raising awareness about the shortage of water among urban persons.
With time, many acronyms pertaining to NGOs have surfaced. These overlapping terms include non-profit organization (abbreviated as NPO), third-sector organization (abbreviated as TSO), civil society organization (abbreviated as CSO), Private Voluntary Organization (abbreviated as PVO), social movement organization ( abbreviated as SMO), non-state actors, (Abbreviated as NSAs) private voluntary organization (abbreviated as PVO), voluntary organization (abbreviated as VO), etc.
Activities NGOs are engaged with
The typology that we have discussed in the preceding segment is used by the Word Bank. It is these typologies that are indicative of various activities undertaken by NGOs from time to time. The role played by NGOs will differ. Some NGOs only undertake functions pertaining to raising awareness. While many NGOs will act as lobbyists, the other will conduct programs on various issues. Under this segment, we shall discuss various activities typical to any NGO.
Operational activities of the NGOs
Operational NGOs aim to achieve small to medium scale goals with the help of projects. Such NGOs will gather funds, volunteers, and materials for the execution of the project within local areas. Most of such NGOs hold fundraising events prior to the organization of the actual main event. Generally, there is a hierarchy that runs throughout the operations of such NGOs. At the top level, there are professionals who chalk out the roadmap to the organization of the project. These professionals are responsible for the creation of budgets, keeping account information, and communicating with other members working at the lower rungs of the organizations.
Operational NGOs deal with a myriad of issues but most of their focus is on issues such as emergency relief, disaster management, environmental degradation, etc. Such operational NGOs can be further classified into development operational NGOs and relief oriented operational NGOs. The classification shall depend on whether the operational NGO is involved in secular or religious, participatory or service programs, etc. Generally, the operational NGOs are locally based however, there are many such NGOs that are nationally and internationally functional.
Another set of NGOs is the campaigning NGOs. These NGOs, unlike operational NGOs, are aimed at large scale objectives and attempt to achieve them with the use of influence that the political system exerts. Because of the magnitude of the goals, such NGOs are staffed by a group of professionals. These professionals have to ensure that the other members of the organization are motivated and inspired.
In order to achieve their goals, these NGOs keep at their helm a large and strong network of supporters, who can be readily mobilized for programs conducted so that media attention is sufficiently drawn. This helps in influencing policy changes. Campaigning NGOs generally deal with issues pertaining to human rights, children rights, women’s rights. These NGOs are known for holding demonstrations and protests. Unlike operational NGOs, these NGOs make the best use of media, lobbyists, and volunteers.
Both campaigning and operational
There are many NGOs that exhibit both characteristics of operational NGOs and campaigning NGOs. Since campaigning NGOs use more active methods of endorsing issues, many operational NGOs use similar techniques to gather attention and healthy response.
One of the most fundamental requirements that must be met with is a healthy relationship with public. This requirement is essential for the survival and credibility of NGOs, which essentially serve the public. Many NGOs organize public relation programs so as to strike a balanced conversation with public on issues that affect them the most. This way, the NGOs would be able to adequately design their tactics on influencing the policy changes.
It is an essential aspect of the overall functioning of an NGO. Overhead cost is a term that is used to refer to the total expenses incurred on operating an NGO rather than on programs. Overhead Cost includes office expenses as well. It is one of the yardsticks to determine the quality and credibility of an NGO for example, an NGO with less than 4 percent of the overhead cost is considered as good.
The World Association of Non-Governmental Organization provides that a typical NGO should spend 86 percent of the financial resources on projects and less than 20 percent of overhead costs. There are guidelines that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has laid down. The guidelines prescribe that 5-7 percent of the financial resources should be spent on overhead costs. The Word Bank prescribes 37 percent as overhead costs but even still, higher overhead costs would create great difficulties for NGOs to generate funds. It will picture the NGO in the bad light, creating an impression that the NGO operates for profit purposes.
Legal status enjoyed by NGOs
The legal status of the NGOs will depend on the jurisdiction we are concerned with. However, the legal statuses of NGOs are generally divided into four categories such as: (1) Trusts, foundations, and charities (2) Special NGOs (3) Companies not for profit (4) Voluntary association and unincorporated