NGO groups exist as a variety of different types, including those that are intended for empowerment and those that are formed to address a specific interest or issue. Other NGO types include those that are community based and groups that are considered social organizations. Some groups are funded entirely by private support and fundraising efforts, while others may be funded by various private and government grants. Many NGO groups are funded by a mixture of these sources. As a non-governmental organization, however, each type shares the commonality of operating as independent organizations that are not government-run institutions.
Some NGOs were established for the purposes of empowering a specific group of people. Examples of this type include women's groups, community groups and others focused on improving one or more aspects of the lives of a particular demographic. These NGO groups often represent repressed and underserved populations.
Many not-for-profit groups are formed to focus on a single issue. Such NGO groups are typically referred to as advocacy groups. This type works to heighten government and/or public awareness on certain issues that the group deems as necessary to affect a positive change.
Community-based groups are those that arise as a result of people in a community coming together for a common purpose. These groups are also sometimes referred to as grassroots organizations. Community-based groups define their own interests from within the group as opposed to other groups that may come together to address issues affecting others outside of the group.
Social organizations tend to focus on bringing people with the same or similar social issues together. These groups sometimes also focus on helping groups with a charitable purpose. For example, socially motivated NGOs may be formed to bring professional women together for networking purposes, but the group may also hold charitable events where funds raised are offered to support a domestic violence shelter. Social organizations also act as advocates for social change.
While there are many different types of NGO groups, an umbrella term commonly applied to all is "civil society organizations." NGO groups are also often described as not-for-profit agencies or nonprofit groups in other parts of the world. While the labels used to classify each one may vary slightly, all of them may be identified by the facts that they are not government organizations and, while they may each generate an income, they are not in business for purposes of profit, but rather to help others and improve lives.