South Baltic Gas Forum
5 - 9 September 2011, Gdańsk, Poland

Non-governmental organization

Non-governmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, or nongovernment organizations, commonly referred to as NGOs, are usually non-profit and sometimes international organizations independent of governments and international governmental organizations (though often funded by governments) that are active in humanitarian, educational, health care, public policy, social, human rights, environmental, and other areas to affect changes according to their objectives. They are thus a subgroup of all organizations founded by citizens, which include clubs and other associations that provide services, benefits, and premises only to members. Sometimes the term is used as a synonym of "civil society organization" to refer to any association founded by citizens, but this is not how the term is normally used in the media or everyday language, as recorded by major dictionaries. The explanation of the term by (the non-governmental organizations associated with the United Nations) is ambivalent. It first says an NGO is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level, but then goes on to restrict the meaning in the sense used by most English speakers and the media: 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.
Track II dialogue, or Track II diplomacy, is transnational coordination that involves non-official members of the government including epistemic communities as well as former policy-makers or analysts. Track II diplomacy aims to get policymakers and policy analysts to come to a common solution through discussions by unofficial means. Unlike the Track I diplomacy where government officials, diplomats and elected leaders gather to talk about certain issues, Track II diplomacy consists of experts, scientists, professors and other figures that are not involved in government affairs. The members of Track II diplomacy usually have more freedom to exchange ideas and come up with compromises on their own.
Non-governmental organizations need healthy relationships with the public to meet their goals. Foundations and charities use sophisticated public relations campaigns to raise funds and employ standard lobbying techniques with governments. Interest groups may be of political importance because of their ability to influence social and political outcomes. A code of ethics was established in 2002 by The World Association of Non Governmental Organizations.
Whether the NGOs are small or large, various NGOs need budgets to operate. The amount of money that each requires varies depending upon multiple factors, including the size of the operation and the extent of the services provided. Unlike small NGOs, large NGOs may have annual budgets in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. For instance, the budget of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) was over US$540 million in 1999. Funding such large budgets demands significant fundraising efforts on the part of most NGOs. Major sources of NGO funding are membership dues, the sale of goods and services, grants from international institutions or national governments, and private donations. Several EU-grants provide funds accessible to NGOs.
The laws of NGOs' host countries sharply defines the legal status, identity and powers of NGOs. In China, for instance, the registration of religious organizations is handled in a different manner than other types of NGOs are subject to. While ordinarily NGOs are registered under the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), RNGOs are registered and managed separately, under the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) at the central level, and regionally under the Religious Affairs Bureau. This differentiation in treatment of NGO types is owing to the Chinese government's time-honoured suspicion towards social organizations with Western origins, including Christian organizations. As Jonathan Tam and Reza Hasmath illustrate, the Communist Party of China maintains a suspicion of religion's historical capacity in China to galvanize social movements that threatened or toppled past Chinese governments and dynasties.

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