What are NGOs?

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are generally considered to be ³non-state, non-profit orientated groups who pursue purposes of public interest´, excluding the private sector (Schmidt and Take 1997). One of the most widely used definitions is given by Operational Directive 14.70 of the World Bank: ³private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development´ (World Bank 2001).[1] According to the World Bank, NGOs are ³value-based organizations which depend, in whole or in part, on charitable donations and voluntary service,´ and in which ³principles of altruism and voluntarism remain key defining characteristics´. More broadly, the term is applicable to any non-profit organization (NPO) that is not established by or controlled by a governmental entity, or even more broadly a nonprofit that is not affiliated with government. There are different ways of categorizing NGOs in broad terms. One categorization is the recognition of a : 1. Mutual benefit NGO, involving an association concerned with improving the situation of its membership, versus a 2. Public benefit NGO, which is an organization working for the imporvement of conditions of society as a whole or of a segment of society. The World Bank differentiates two main categories of NGOs with which it interacts: 1. Operational NGOs, the primary purpose of which is the design and implementation of development-related projects. 2. Advocacy NGOs, the primary purpose of which is to defend or promote a specific cause, and influence the policies and practices of international organizations. Operational NGOs are further classified as national organizations, which operate in individual developing countries, international organizations, which are typically headquartered in developed countries and carry out operations in developing countries, and community-based organizations (CBOs), which serve a specific population in a narrow geographical area. CBOs, also referred to as grassroots organizations or peoples¶ organizations (PO), differ from other NGOs in both nature and purpose: while national and international organizations are seen as ³intermediary´ NGOs that are formed to serve others, CBOs are usually ³membership´ organizations whose purpose is to advance the interests of their members. Examples include women¶s groups, credit circles, youth clubs, cooperatives and farmers¶ associations. Alternative terms used to refer to NGOs include private voluntary organizations (used especially in the United States) and voluntary development organizations (a term favored by many African NGOs). Civil

with particular emphasis on international organizations. not all have survived or have been successful. from the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution to the World Wars and through the aftermath of the Cold War. more than 100. It looks at the different causes that have been championed by NGOs as the events in world history have unfolded. NGOs have existed in some form or another as far back as 25. The growth of NGOs really took off after the Second World War. At the UN Congress in San Francisco in 1968.000 private. compared with about 10 each year in the 1890s. not-for-profit organizations with an international focus have been founded. particularly after the Industrial Revolution. governmental status. however. History of the NGO Sector Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as we know them today are generally thought to have come into existence around the mid-nineteenth century. Only about 30 percent of early international NGOs have survived. with about 90 international NGOs founded each year. a provision was made in Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations framework that qualified NGOs in the field of economic and social development to receive consultative status with the Economic and Social Council. Many more NGOs with a local. Since 1850. national or regional focus have been created. though like their international counterparts. Note: NGOs are not legal entities under international law the way states are. which is considered a legal entity under international law because it is based on the Geneva Convention.society organization (CSO) is another term used for NGOs. . The ICRC does not classify itself as an NGO. because of its legal. sometimes favored as it does not define the sector in terms of what it is not (non-governmental).000 years ago. An exception is the International Committee of the Red Cross. although those organizations founded after the wars have had a better survival rate. The development of modern NGOs has largely mirrored that of general world history. It also looks at the evolution of the structure and purpose of NGOs as they have matured over the years. This article presents an overview of the history of modern day NGOs. It was only about a century later that the importance of NGOs was officially recognized by the United Nations.

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