Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are those that are neither government-sponsored nor traditional businesses in the sense of profit-directed operations. Many NGOs are non-profit organizations, but the two terms are not interchangeable, which is an important distinction. There are thousands of NGOs with different goals operating on the international level and many more that operate in their respective countries. Among the different types of NGO programs are charitable organizations, participatory organizations and campaigning organizations. NGO programs are often referred to as grassroots programs, or those from the independent or volunteer sectors of society.
Some of the most common NGO programs are active campaigning programs. These programs work in various ways to influence governments and lawmakers in hopes of changing certain laws. They also might raise awareness among voters in hopes of influencing elections or getting other people to help them put pressure on government officials.
One example of NGO programs that are fairly well known are various environmental programs and organizations. Greenpeace, for example, is one of the largest and most well-known NGOs. It accomplishes its goals in various ways, through fundraising, grants and demonstrations. Greenpeace campaigns against governments and aims to get individuals involved in its programs to make them more effective. Helping the environment is by no means the goal of all NGOs, however, and there are plenty of other organizations with different goals and ongoing projects.
Human rights and women's rights are two other common causes undertaken by NGO programs, as are improving health and encouraging sustainable development. Other specific programs might include things such as disaster relief, reducing crime and drug abuse or assisting at-risk kids or schools. These are just a few of the various NGO programs around the world; there are many more based on the needs of their specific areas. Many NGOs are frequently in need of funding and volunteers to offer their valuable time, and they represent excellent opportunities to give back to communities and make a big difference over the long term.