Non-governmental organization

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A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government and a term usually used by governments to refer to entities that have no government status. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization. The term is usually applied only to organizations that pursue some wider social aim that has political aspects, but that are not overtly political organizations such as political parties. Unlike the term "intergovernmental organization", the term "non-governmental organization" has no generally agreed legal definition. In many jurisdictions, these types of organization are called "civil society organizations" or referred to by other names.

The number of internationally operating NGOs is estimated at 40,000.[1] National numbers are even higher: Russia has 277,000 NGOs;[2] India is estimated to have around 3.3 million NGOs.[3]



NGOs are defined by the World Bank 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".[4]

Common usage varies between countries - for example NGO is commonly used for domestic organizations in Australia that would be referred to as non-profit organizations in the United States. Such organizations that operate on the international level are fairly consistently referred to as "non-governmental organizations", in the United States and elsewhere.

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