Top 10 Things You Should Know About NGOs

Photo: Concern Worldwide

Photo: Concern Worldwide

Going into my internship with Concern Worldwide US, I always knew what an NGO was. This was partially due to my interest in international relations and events as well as an assignment given to me in my junior year of high school. I was in disbelief when I learned not everyone understood what an NGO is, what they stand for, and what they do. I first encountered this reality when I explained to my neighbor I interned for an NGO and he looked at me in confusion. It was a shock when I was at the laundromat, and again, during a discussion on my internship, an older women gave the same expression and question, “What is an NGO?”  Here are ten basic facts about what an NGO really is:

  1. NGO is an acronym that stands for Non-Governmental Organization. They are neither a part of government nor the private sector. There is no focus on power over people or becoming wealthy through working at an NGO. So why do they do it…scroll to #2!
  2. NGOs are humanitarian groups. People and the community are the priority of the organization. NGOs strive to better the world and help the less fortunate.
  3. NGOs range from International to National to Local. There are approximately 40,000 NGOs in the world in addition to the community-based organizations according to the United Nations Development Program. An NGO can be a domestic organization and reach those in their community or they can be international and help those thousands of miles away.
  4. NGOs are non-profit. This means all surplus money will be placed back into the organization’s work and will not be a profit to owners, staff or donors. There is no interest in money for NGOs. The mission is often to relive suffering and protect the people.
  5. There is a passion and desire to help. NGOs consist of people who volunteer to aid development; there is no mandatory requirement to join an NGO. All NGOs share the common principle of humanity and those committed to NGO activities support this principle in interest of bettering the world.
  6. Every little bit counts. NGOs are funded by various ways. There are government grants, grants from foundations and corporate businesses, small donors and even large donors.  You don’t have to be a billionaire; anyone can donate. Every donor is appreciated and aids the cause, no matter how big or how small.
  7. NGOs work to make a difference. The work of an NGO may vary from healthcare, livelihood, poverty, child mortality, education, emergency response, water & sanitation and other needs of the people. If there’s an issue or need, there’s most likely an NGO working on it.
  8. NGOs do not use aid to further religious, political or military standpoints. NGOs are independent and do not work for governments or partner with armed forces. Neutrality is a must to access all areas in need of aid and relief. Working for a government or partnering with an armed force might portray an NGO as a threat rather than a source of safety and help.
  9. NGOs do not use armed forces. This means guns are not allowed in offices or project sites. They do not exchange information with the military or use armed or military escorts. NGOs do not support violence and conflict. NGOs value peace, tolerance and the people. 
  10. NGOs believe in the rights of the people. NGOs are a force in the global civil society and aim to provide access to basic human rights to those in need. Development is not a gift or privilege; it’s a process that NGOs push for.

It’s obvious NGOs are awesome! They’re like superheroes donating effort and time to make people’s lives better. Stay tuned for next week’s post on “Top 10 Things You Should Know about Concern Worldwide”.