Concept of NGOs, Types and Activities of NGOs

Concept of NGOs, Types and Activities of NGOs

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a not-for-profit organization that is independent from states and international governmental organizations. They are usually funded by donations but some avoid formal funding altogether and are run primarily by volunteers. NGOs are highly diverse groups of organizations engaged in a wide range of activities, and take different forms in different parts of the world. Some may have charitable status, while others may be registered for tax exemption based on recognition of social purposes. Others may be fronts for political, religious, or other interests.
The number of NGOs worldwide is estimated to be 3.7 million.  Russia has 277,000 NGOs.India is estimated to have had around 2 million NGOs in 2009, just over one NGO per 600 Indians, and many times the number of primary schools and primary health centres in India. China is estimated to have approximately 440,000 officially registered NGOs.
 In the recent years, NGO is a much used term. The diversity of the NGOs strains any simple definition.
In the most simple sense the term “NGO” refers to “ any voluntary non-profit agency involved in the field of development co-operation or in education and policy advocacy activities.” (Brodhead :1987)
The NGOs are also defined as organizations that are “established and governed by a group of private citizens for a stated philanthropic purpose and supported by voluntary individual contribution.” (OECD, 1988)
Other defines NGOs as “institutions outside the public and private sectors whose goals are primarily value-driven (humanitarian and co-operative) rather than profit driven(World Bank, 1990,Bhatnugear)
The term “NGO” also includes “all those organizations which are involved in various development activities with the objective of alleviating poverty of the rural and urban poor.” (Task Force Report, 1990: Islam and Hussain 1993)
At last it can be said that NGOs are those organizations who are not affiliated to political parties but non-profit, voluntary, service and development oriented organization engaged in working only for the development and welfare of the community

Characteristics of NGOs
1.       An NGO is a non-profit making, voluntary, service-oriented/ development oriented organization, either for the benefit of members (a grassroots organization) or of other members of the population (an agency).
2.       It is an organization of private individuals who believe in certain basic social principles and who structure their activities to bring about development to communities they are servicing.
3.       It is a social development organization assisting in empowerment of people.
4.       An organization or group of people working independent of any external control with specific objectives and aims to fulfill tasks that are oriented to bring about desirable change in a given community or areas or situation.
5.       An independent, democratic, non-sectarian people’s organization working for the empowerment of economic and/or socially marginalized groups.
6.       An organization not affiliated to political parties, generally engaged in working for aid, development and welfare of thecommunity.
7.       An organization committed to the root causes of the problems trying to better the quality of life especially for the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized in urban and rural areas.
8.       Organizations established by end for the community with or without little intervention from the government; they are not only a charity organization, but work on socio¬economic-cultural activities.

NGOs are also traditionally known as:
1.       Voluntary Organizations (VOs)
2.       Voluntary Agencies (VAs)
3.       Voluntary Development Organizations (VDOs)
4.       Non Governmental Development Organizations (NGDOs)

Activities :
There are numerous classifications of NGOs. The typology the World Bank uses divides them into Operational and Advocacy.
Generally, NGO's act as implementers, catalysts and partners. Firstly, NGO's act as implementers in that they mobilize resources in order to provide goods and services to people who are suffering due to a man-made disaster or a natural disaster. Secondly, NGO's act as catalysts in that they drive change. They have the ability to 'inspire, facilitate or contribute to improved thinking and action to promote change'. Lastly, NGO's often act as partners alongside other organizations in order to tackle problems and address human needs more effectively
NGOs vary in their methods. Some act primarily as lobbyists, while others primarily conduct programs and activities. For instance, an NGO such as Oxfam, concerned with poverty alleviation, might provide needy people with the equipment and skills to find food and clean drinking water, whereas an NGO like the FFDA helps through investigation and documentation of human rights violations and provides legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses. Others, such as Afghanistan Information Management Services, provide specialized technical products and services to support development activities implemented on the ground by other organizations.
Operational :
Operational NGOs seek to "achieve small-scale change directly through projects". They mobilize financial resources, materials, and volunteers to create localized programs. They hold large-scale fundraising events and may apply to governments and organizations for grants or contracts to raise money for projects. They often operate in a hierarchical structure; a main headquarters being staffed by professionals who plan projects, create budgets, keep accounts, and report and communicate with operational fieldworkers who work directly on projects. Operational NGOs deal with a wide range of issues, but are most often associated with the delivery of services or environmental issues, emergency relief, and public welfare. Operational NGOs can be further categorized by the division into relief-oriented versus development-oriented organizations; according to whether they stress service delivery or participation; whether they are religious or secular; and whether they are more public- or private-oriented. Although operational NGOs can be community-based, many are national or international. The defining activity of operational NGOs is the implementation of projects.
Types of NGOs :
On the basis of certain factors such as, size, class, life span, location, status of personnels and characteristics of the beneficiaries, NGOs are divided into some particular types. Here is given a brief description of the classifications of NGOs.
a. Classification on the basis of Orientation
i) Charity Oriented NGOs : The activities of these NGOs are based on the philosophy of charity and those activities include distribution of food, clothing, medicine, educational facilities, relief work etc.
ii)Development Service Oriented NGOs: The activities of these NGOs include provisions of health care, family planniny or education services.
iii)Participatory NGOs : These NGOs are characterized by self-help projects where local people are involved by contributing cash, tools land materials ,labor, etc.
iv)Empowerment Oriented NGOs: These NGOs work to strengthen the awareness of the target group and their potential to control their lives.

b. Classification on the basis of Spatial coverage & functions
i) Local NGOs: These NGOs operate in only a few villages, in a thana or a union receiving funds from local/national/international sources.
ii) National NGOs: These NGOs operate in four or more geographical locations in the country and receive funds mostly from the foreign donors.
iii) International NGOs: These NGOs operate in several geographical locations having their headquarters outside the country and operate mostly by expertise.
iv) Mixed NGOs: These NGOs are voluntary organization organized locally but receiving money from foreign governments or organizations.

C. Classification on the basis of Role
i) Relief and Welfare NGOs: These NGOs are working to provide relief support towards the helpless people.
ii) Service NGOs: These NGOs operate their activities to deliver services to the target groups.
iii) Funding NGOs: These NGOs operate as conduits of foreign donars engaged in making grants to NGOs and also help local NGOs to get foreign assistance.
iv) Networking/Coordinating NGOs: These NGOs work to facilitate mutual sharing of learning & experiences and also promote mutual support & co-operation among the NGO community.
v) Development NGOs: These NGOs operate to mobilize the poor through education and conscious raising to develop their own organizations.
vi) Consulting NGOs: These NGOs provide consulting services to the govt., donor agencies and other actors in completion of the programs.


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