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Topic – What Is an NGO?

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What Is an NGO?

NGO stands for “non-government organization.” This means that an organization that is an NGO is not part of a government or controlled by a government. Canadian NGOs are not part of or controlled by the federal government or a provincial or local government.

What Are Some Characteristics of NGOs?

There are different kinds of NGOs in Canada and around the world. Along with not being part of a government, there are certain characteristics that most NGOs have in common.

Humanitarian goals: The word humanitarian can describe a person or group that is concerned about the well-being of humans and takes action to help or prevent human suffering. Any goal that helps or prevents human suffering is a humanitarian goal. Examples of humanitarian goals include helping people who have been affected by a natural disaster, supporting human rights, and helping to provide clean drinking water in places where it is not easily available. Some NGOs focus on protecting and improving the environment.

Non-profit organizations: A business tries to make profit, which is money that is left over after the business pays its expenses. This money goes to the people who own the business. Non-profit organizations, including NGOs, do not seek to make a profit. Any money that is left over after expenses are paid is used to help the organization achieve its goals. (Note that not all non-profit organizations are NGOs.)

Use of volunteers: NGOs have paid staff that help to run the organizations, but most NGOs rely heavily on volunteers to help them achieve their goals. For example, in many NGOs volunteers help with fundraising.

Why Are NGOs Necessary?

Governments work to help and prevent human suffering in their own countries and around the world. But governments alone cannot solve all problems. A government may not be able to provide enough money to solve a problem, or a specific problem might not be seen as a priority by the government in power. NGOs provide another way to help solve problems. Because NGOs are not part of the government, they can work on problems that are not a priority for the government.

Where Do NGOs Get Money to Do Their Work?

Most NGOs rely on money donated by people and businesses who want to support the work NGOs are doing. You may have seen TV ads from an NGO asking for people to make donations to support the organization or to support a specific cause the organization is working on, such as helping victims of a natural disaster.

Some NGOs receive money from governments that want to support the work the NGOs are doing. In some cases, this is a more efficient way for a government to help with a problem. For example, an NGO might have offices, staff, and trained volunteers in a country to help with health care. If there is a health care crisis in the country, perhaps after a natural disaster, a government may want to help. Donating money to an NGO that is already established in the country can be the most efficient way to help.

Do All NGOs Work Internationally?

Some NGOs work in countries around the world, but not all do. An NGO might focus on needs in one community, region, or country. For example, the Yukon Conservation Society focuses on protecting ecosystems in the Yukon. In contrast, Doctors Without Borders is an international NGO that provides health care in many different countries.


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