Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are organisations that are not affiliated with any government and whose primary objectives are social justice and human rights.
The term as it is used today was first introduced in Article 71 of the newly-formed United Nations' Charter in 1945. Later on, the term was used more widely. According to the UN, an NGO is any private organization that is independent of any government administration, as long as it is not for profit and is not a criminal group or a political party (source).
Statistics about the number of NGOs worldwide are incomplete, but according to the United Nations Development Program, there are approximately 40,000 non-governmental organisations in the world in addition to the community-based organisations which number in the hundreds of thousands (source). Both NGOs and community-based organisations (CBOs) work share a common goal – the welfare of society and the people, with CBOs focusing typically on a specific locality. The aim is to improve lives in that locality in general. They are active in a vast variety of activities, like NGOs, such as health, education, food, sports, arts, religions, animal welfare, etc. The overarching term for all non-profit organisations, including NGOs and CBOs, is are Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
The first international NGO was most certainly the Anti-Slavery Society, formed in 1839. Many organizations that came after were inspired by the anti-slavery movement, which peaked at the close of the 18th century. Other early NGOs grew out of wars, including the Red Cross in the 1850s after the Franco–Italian war; Save the Children after World War I; and Oxfam and CARE after World War II (source).
BRAC (The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) is nowadays the world’s largest NGO. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC’s mission is to alleviate poverty and encourage economic participation by empowering people through social and economic programs.BRAC also sets up and runs schools and universities, The Economist described it as “the largest, fastest-growing non-governmental organization in the world–and one of the most businesslike.”
Civicus is an international non-profit organisation, which describes itself as “a global alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world." Founded in 1993, the organisation today counts more than 8,500 members in more than 175 countries, with its headquarters in Johannesburg and offices in Geneva and New York. Check their website for more.
Eighty percent of citizens agree that nongovernmental organisations make it easy to be involved in positive social change (source). The number of people worldwide donating money to NGOs increases steadily year after year and is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2030 (source).
Do you have any fun or interesting facts to share about your organisation? We would love to hear from you.