International Nongovernmental Organizations

International Nongovernmental Organizations

The World Bank defines a non-governmental organization (NGO) as "private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development". An international non-governmental organization (INGO) has the same mission as a non-governmental organization (NGO), but it is international in scope and has outposts around the world to deal with specific issues in many countries.

Both terms, NGO and INGO, should be differentiated from intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), which describes groups such as the United Nations or the International Labour Organization. An INGO may be founded by private philanthropy, such as the Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates and Ford Foundations, or as an adjunct to existing international organizations, such as the Catholic or Lutheran churches. A surge in the founding of development INGOs occurred during World War II, some of which would later become the large development INGOs like Oxfam, Catholic Relief Services, CARE International, and Lutheran World Relief.

International Non-governmental Organizations can further be defined by their primary purpose. Some INGOs are operational, meaning that their primary purpose is to foster the community based organizations within each country via different projects and operations. Some INGOs are advocacy-based, meaning that their primary purpose is to influence the policy-making of different countries’ governments regarding certain issues or promote the awareness of a certain issue. Many of the large INGOs have components of both operational projects and advocacy initiatives working together within individual countries.

Read more about International Nongovernmental Organizations:  Criteria, INGOs and Development, Debate, Case Studies

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