Non-government Organization (NGO)
An NGO is a non-governmental organization. NGOs do not contrast directly with nonprofit organizations because they are a category of nonprofit organization. As the name suggests, an NGO is independent of government insight, meaning it is not part of a government entity or operated through a government program.
All types of nonprofits, including NGOs, are created and operated to contribute to the public’s benefit. The ways that nonprofits can pursue that goal vary widely. However, all nonprofits must return all of their revenues that go beyond operating costs back into the organization. That is the nonprofit’s core difference with for-profit entities, such as businesses. In the United States, a nonprofit organization is founded in its home state. However, it must secure nonprofit status through the IRS, too, to receive tax-exempt status, avoiding income taxes and enabling those who donate to the organization to claim a tax deduction.
NGOs do not have a formal definition, according to Grant Space, an online resource for nonprofits. However, the NGO tag typically is not applied to organizations based in the United States that have a solely domestic mission, though they technically fit the profile. Instead, NGOs most often refer to nonprofit organizations with an international reach, such as Greenpeace or Amnesty International, according to the Georgetown Law Library. Frequent topics that NGOs address include environmental and social issues, economic development, health care and human rights.
Although NGOs do not have government powers and are not part of a government, they still can influence the government through various external efforts. For instance, NGOs may employ lobbyists to advocate for state or national legislation, or they may advocate for a position in public policy debates. And an NGO does not necessarily carry zero financial ties to government entities. Many NGOs receive a portion of their funding from government sources, according to Grant Space. This typically would be from occasional funding sources, such as grant programs.
Nonprofits With Government Ties
Nonprofit organizations that do not qualify as NGOs operate in connection with a government or governments. A government agency may have worked toward the formation of the organization, and it may maintain some control over the organization and its operation. That control could be through representation on an organization’s board. For instance, public colleges and universities in the United States are nonprofit organizations that are not NGOs. They receive funding through the state routinely, and the boards that govern them typically are named by a state’s governor.