A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a citizen-based association that operates independently of government, usually to deliver resources or serve some social or political purpose.
The World Bank classifies NGOs as either operational NGOs, which are primarily concerned with development projects, or advocacy NGOs, which are primarily concerned with promoting a cause.
The International Standards Organization (ISO) is a non-governmental organization. As such, its standards are voluntary, but many of its member institutes are part of the governmental structures of their countries, and ISO standards have found their way into many laws. Information technology professionals, for example, are probably familiar with the ISO/IEC 27000 series of standards for IT security management.
Variations of NGOs include:
- BINGO (business-friendly international NGO or big international NGO); the Red Cross is one example of a BINGO.
- ENGO (environmental NGO); the World Wildlife Fund is one example of an ENGO.
- GONGO (government-operated NGO), by definition not an NGO but an organization created by a government to resemble an NGO to further some agenda.
- INGO (international NGO); Oxfam is one example of an INGO.
- QUANGO (quasi-autonomous NGO), an NGO which may have some governmental members; the ISO is one example of a QUANGO.
- RINGO (religious international NGO); the Catholic Relief Services is one example of a RINGO.
Other NGO acronyms include DONGO (Donor Organized NGO), TANGO (technical assistance NGO) and MANGO (market advocacy NGO).