What Does The Term NGO Exactly Mean?

NGOs or better known as non-governmental organizations have become quite a prominent and active part in the field of international development in the recent years. However, the term NGO compromises a vast category of groups and organizations. Several different sources refer to these groups with different names, some call them NGOs, while others refer to them as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs), child labor charities, non-profits charities/charitable organizations and so on.

These terms encompass a wide variety of groups ranging from completely organised corporate-funded think-tanks to community groups, grass-root activist groups, development and research organizations, advocacy groups, operational, emergency/humanitarian relief focused, and much more. Though there are several distinctions in specific situations, such type of NGOs deal with a high level of issues, and so these terms may be used interchangeably; sometimes “NGO” is also as the umbrella term.

There exists a World Bank document stating: “Since the mid-1970s, the NGO sector in both developed and developing countries has experienced exponential growth. It is now estimated that over 15 percent of total overseas development aid is channeled through NGOs.” Which is roughly estimated to be a massive $8 billion. Recognizing the fact that some of the statistics are not correctly completed, the World Bank adds that there are an estimated 6,000 to 30,000 national NGOs in developing countries alone, while the number of community-based organizations in the developing world go up to hundreds of thousands.

Such NGOs must operate as a completely non-governmental related group, and should also make sure that they are nowhere looking at it on a profit generation basis. The NGOs are meant to be politically independent—in reality it is a difficult task because they must receive funding from their government, from other institutions, businesses and/or from private sources.

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