An NGO corresponds to the acronym of a Non-Governmental Organization and is an association or entity whose objective is to serve society through humanitarian purposes. This definition of NGO cannot be understood without its character cooperative, which acts outside public administrations. They offer some degree of help without the intention of profiting from it. Therefore, an NGO will always seek to serve others through a specific cause.
What are the Characteristics of an NGO?
An NGO is a private entity, which, as we have indicated, does not depend on the public administration, but rather a group of people who act as volunteers. It is through the hands-on work of these volunteers or through donations that allows them to control the objective of their activity independently. This is the main purpose of an NGO. NGOs have particular characteristics that should be known:
- The NGOs work together to pursue the same objectives. This is known as “common leadership” and is the reason for which it is based.
- NGOs pursue a specific cause, be it social, pursuing human rights or environmental rights, among others.
- For the objectives of an NGO to be carried out, an NGO will always need funds or investments for the development of its activities. Volunteers of an NGO work for free. What a volunteer contributes to the cause does not entitle them to claim or obtain a salary or economic benefit. They act through donations to the cause, as well as their own labor.
What are the Objectives of an NGO?
The function of an NGO is to serve a social cause, whether at the regional, national or international level. The objective of an NGO is to provide social assistance, inclusion, aid and active work on human rights, on health or on the protection of the environment. However, we also highlight other purposes of an NGO, which we can be summarized in three ways:
- Commitment is the foundation of an NGO. In addition to working actively with the cause it defends, important factors such as raising awareness in society are also considered among its main objectives. An NGO strives to have an impact on the people so that they can take action through volunteering or simply to bring public awareness to a specific problem. This highlights the issues to the public, allowing them to become aware of a situation that is real and one that affects the entire society.
- NGOs want a modification or resolution of a social, economic or political problem among other areas, they are striving to impact and change.
- Dignity and solidarity, to achieve a fairer world in which equal rights and opportunities prevail regardless of any types of conditioning.
What are the Types of NGOs?
The types of NGOs we usually come across are classified according to their scope of impact and the target of orientation. If we talk about NGOs based on the area in which they have an impact or upon which they act, an NGO can be a community or a citizen, national and/or international. An example of a community NGO is one that was created with the intention of helping or protecting a group, such as organizations of women, who have suffered some type of violence. On the other hand, we will find NGOs that participate on an international scale and that are possibly recognized throughout the world, because their cause has been distributed in countless countries. UNICEF is a prime example of an international NGO.
If we talk about NGOs by area of concern, we will find NGOs relating to charity, services and defense. Those that have to do with charity act on issues related to things, such as access to quality housing. If we talk about services, we find those that have arisen as a consequence of a passivity of the State or an impossibility of covering all groups or citizens in general. For example, access to health systems or services. The participatory NGOs are ones that work through self-help. Lastly, the defense NGOs act on the protection of rights.
How is an NGO Financed?
An NGO is financed mainly through donations. These donations are classified according to whomever donated them. For example, private donations from citizens or donations that have been produced directly by the people of the NGO, such as its partners or volunteers.
However, there are other ways of obtaining funding for an NGO, such as activities that are promoted by the NGOs themselves. Activities in this way can include things like a meal; whose benefits go directly to the maintenance of the NGO itself.
Alternatively, there are NGOs that are financed directly by the private sector that do not depend on any subsidies received, especially since in many cases, these subsidies are scarce or non-existent.