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Organizations which are independent of government involvement[3] are known as non-governmental organizations or NGOs[4][5] or non-government organizations.[6] NGOs are a subgroup of organizations founded by citizens, which include clubs and associations which provide services to its members and others. They are usually nonprofit organizations. Many NGOs are active in humanitarianism or the social sciences. Surveys indicate that NGOs have a high degree of public trust, which can make them a useful proxy for the concerns of society and stakeholders.[7] However, NGOs can also be lobby groups for corporations, such as the World Economic Forum.[8][9][10][11] According to NGO.org (the non-governmental organizations associated with the United Nations), "[an NGO is] any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level ... Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political participation through provision of information."[12][needs update?]

Russia had about 277,000 NGOs in 2008.[13] India is estimated to have had about two million NGOs in 2009 (approximately one per 600 Indians), many more than the number of the country's primary schools and health centers.[14][15] The term "NGO" is used inconsistently; it is sometimes a synonym for a civil society organization, any association founded by citizens.[16] NGOs are known in some countries as nonprofit organizations, and political parties and trade unions are sometimes considered NGOs. NGOs are classified by orientation and level of operation; orientation refers to the type of activities an NGO undertakes. Activities may include human rights, consumer protection, environmentalism, health, or development. An NGO's level of operation indicates the scale at which an organization works: local, regional, national, or international.[17]

NGOs are usually funded by donations, but some avoid formal funding and are run by volunteers. NGOs may have charitable status, or may be tax-exempt in recognition of their social purposes. Others may

NGOs are usually funded by donations, but some avoid formal funding and are run by volunteers. NGOs may have charitable status, or may be tax-exempt in recognition of their social purposes. Others may be fronts for political, religious, or other interests. Since the end of World War II, NGOs have had an increased role in international development,[26] particularly in the fields of humanitarian assistance and poverty alleviation.[27]

Funding sources include membership dues, the sale of goods and services, grants from international institutions or national governments, and private donations. Although the term "non-governmental organization" implies independence from governments, many NGOs depend on government funding;&#

Funding sources include membership dues, the sale of goods and services, grants from international institutions or national governments, and private donations. Although the term "non-governmental organization" implies independence from governments, many NGOs depend on government funding;[28] one-fourth of Oxfam's US$162 million 1998 income was donated by the British government and the EU, and World Vision United States collected $55 million worth of goods in 1998 from the American government. Several EU grants provide funds accessible to NGOs.

Government funding of NGOs is controversial, since "the whole point of humanitarian intervention was precise that NGOs and civil society had both a right and an obligation to respond with acts of aid and solidarity to people in need or being subjected to repression or want by the forces that controlled them, whatever the governments concerned might think about the matter."[29] Some NGOs, such as Greenpeace, do not accept funding from governments or intergovernmental organizations.[30][31] The 1999 budget of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) was over $540 million.[32]

Overhead is the amount of money spent on running an NGO, rather than on projects.[33] It includes office expenses,[33] salaries, and banking and bookkeeping costs. An NGO's percentage of its overall budget spent on overhead is often used to judge it; less than four percent is considered good.[33] According to the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, more than 86 percent should be spent on programs (less than 20 percent on overhead).[34] The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has guidelines of five to seven percent overhead to receive funding;[35] the World Bank typically allows 37 percent.[36] A high percentage of overhead relative to total expenditures can make it more difficult to generate funds.[37] High overhead costs may generate public criticism.[38]

A sole focus on overhead, however, can be counterproductive.[39] Research published by the Urban Institute and Stanford University's Center for Social Innov

A sole focus on overhead, however, can be counterproductive.[39] Research published by the Urban Institute and Stanford University's Center for Social Innovation have shown that rating agencies create incentives for NGOs to lower (and hide) overhead costs, which may reduce organizational effectiveness by starving organizations of infrastructure to deliver services.[40][41] An alternative rating system would provide, in addition to financial data, a qualitative evaluation of an organization’s transparency and governance:

In a March 2000 report on United Nations reform priorities, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan favored international humanitarian intervention as the responsibility to protect[43] citizens from ethnic cleansing, genocide, and crimes against humanity. After that report, the Canadian government launched its Responsibility to Protect (R2P)[44] project outlining the issue of humanitarian intervention. The R2P project has wide applications, and among its more controversial has been the Canadian government's use of R2P to justify its intervention in the coup in Haiti.[45]

Large corporations have increased their corporate social responsibility departments to preempt NGO campaigns against corporate practices. Collaboration between corporations and NGOs risks co-option of the weaker partner, typically the NGO.[46]

In December 2007, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affa

Large corporations have increased their corporate social responsibility departments to preempt NGO campaigns against corporate practices. Collaboration between corporations and NGOs risks co-option of the weaker partner, typically the NGO.[46]

In December 2007, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs S. Ward Casscells established an International Health Division of Force Health Protection & Readiness.[47] Part of International Health's mission is to communicate with NGOs about areas of mutual interest. Department of Defense Directive 3000.05,[48] in 2005, required the US Defense Department to regard stability-enhancing activities as equally important as combat. In compliance with international law, the department has developed a capacity to improve essential services in areas of conflict (such as Iraq) where customary lead agencies like the State Department and USAID have difficulty operating. International Health cultivates collaborative, arm's-length relationships with NGOs, recognizing their independence, expertise, and honest-broker status.[citation needed]

International non-governmental organizations date back to at least the late 18th century,[49][50] and there were an estimated 1,083 NGOs by 1914.[51] International NGOs were important to the anti-slavery and women's suffrage movements, and peaked at the time of the 1932–1934 World Disarmament Conference.[52] The term became popular with the 1945 founding of the United Nations in 1945;[53] Article 71, Chapter X of its charter[54] stipulated consultative status for organizations which are neither governments nor member states.[55] An international NGO was first defined in resolution 288 (X) of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC} on February 27, 1950 as "any international organization that is not founded by an international treaty". The role of NGOs and other "major groups" in sustainable development was recognized in Chapter 27[56] of Agenda 21.[57] The rise and fall of international NGOs matches contemporary events, waxing in periods of growth and waning in times of crisis.[58] The United Nations gave non-governmental organizations observer status at its assemblies and some meetings. According to the UN, an NGO is a private, not-for-profit organization which is independent of government control and is not merely an opposition political party.[59]

The rapid development of the non-governmental sector occurred in Western countries as a result of the restructuring of the welfare state. Globalization of that process occurred after the fall of the comm

The rapid development of the non-governmental sector occurred in Western countries as a result of the restructuring of the welfare state. Globalization of that process occurred after the fall of the communist system, and was an important part of the Washington Consensus.[28]

Twentieth-century globalization increased the importance of NGOs. International treaties and organizations, such as the World Trade Organization, focused on capitalist interests. To counterbalance this trend, NGOs emphasize humanitarian issues, development aid, and sustainable development. An example is the World Social Forum, a rival convention of the World Economic Forum held each January in Davos, Switzerland. The fifth World Social Forum, in Porto Alegre, Brazil in January 2005, was attended by representatives of over 1,000 NGOs.[60] The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, attended by about 2,400 representatives, was the first to demonstrate the power of international NGOs in environmental issues and sustainable development. Transnational NGO networking has become extensive.[61]

Although NGOs are subject to national laws and practices, four main groups may be found worldwide:[62]