The different types of Christian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that exist throughout the world parallel the work of many non-Christian NGOs in certain key areas. These areas are focused on reducing poverty in developing nations, which includes sub-categories that contribute to poverty such as recognizing and supporting the key roles that women play in society, facilitating improvements in health and education, and making an effort to improve international finance towards poor nations such as by encouraging debt forgiveness. Other key arenas that Christian NGOs operate in that reflect the principles of secular civil society organizations include environmental protection and efforts to curtail excessive military spending in poor nations.
The role that any particular non-governmental organization can play often revolves around one of about 25 different social advancement topics. These can be broadly categorized into three overarching areas, however, in which Christian NGOs are actively involved, with one of these being that of promoting peace and security through conflict resolution, disarmament, and respect for human rights. Of equal importance to Christian NGOs is the promotion of respect for the family through care for children, honoring the status of women in society, and resolving issues involving refugees, health, and nutrition needs.
Aside from the promotion of peaceful coexistence and care for the family unit, Christian NGOs focus their efforts on the advancement of societies through sustainable development. This includes the arenas of trade, education, and appropriate and fair development of natural resources. They also encourage the growth of science and technology to meet fundamental needs.
The efforts of Christian NGOs parallel and often work hand-in-hand with other independent development organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Bretton Woods Institute (BWI) for international monetary management. The focus of Christian not-for-profit activities, however, also utilizes the exposure of such activities to promote Christian values and ethics as a form of evangelical ministry to local populations. Of 18 major world Christian NGOs listed by the United Nations that are involved in efforts globally, all 18 have principles of the Christian religion in their charters and the word Christian displayed prominently in their names as the focus of their outreach.
These major Christian NGOs also put priority for their services across all denominations of Christianity first, and include minorities and local oppressed populations as their initial targets for help. In nations such as Pakistan and India where the populations are primarily Islamic or Hindu in faith, the same organizations make no distinction for religion and reach out to all concerned to alleviate conditions such as the spread of malaria, or to discourage drug abuse which contributes to the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In nations such as South Africa and Zambia, the primary focus of Christian NGOs is on small business development, human rights, and promoting equality to facilitate the development of communities as a whole regardless of religious affiliation.