Keywords and Concepts
associated with NGOs

With the UN and the world bank recognising the key roles played by NGOs (in the broader sense of the term) - at the grassroots, intermediary and decision-making levels, a considerable body of literature has emerged, expanding on and highlighting the issues involved.

This list is a compilation of terms, phrases and cliches (!) found in the literature.

Defining Criteria
Organizational Structures and Nomenclatures
Criteria used in defining NGOs and related concepts:
  • size
  • organizational structure
  • operational programme areas
  • geographical specificity
  • funding sources
  • membership structures
  • position on the project cycle
Some of the terms used to define NGOs based on its organizational format
  • non-governmental organization
  • non-profit organization
  • private voluntary organization
  • non-governmental development organization
  • government-organized NGO [GONGO]
  • donor-organized NGO [DONGO]
  • social movements
  • civil society
  • community-based organization
  • people's organization
  • grassroots organization
Operational Areas
Tools and Strategies
Some of the operational areas within which NGOs have worked, independently and in collaboration with other organizations:
  • organization of the community
  • democracy
  • education
  • enterprise development
  • environment
  • health
  • housing
  • human rights
  • infrastructure
  • political franchise
  • poverty alleviation
Intervening tools and strategies adopted by NGOs in their projects:
  • community organizing
  • decision support
  • information dissemination
  • leadership development
  • participation
  • training and development
  • workshops
Membership Structures
Catch-phrases and Cliches
Membership structures of NGOs can consist of:
  • professionals
  • women
  • youth
  • community
  • religion
  • volunteers
  • students
Catch-phrases and cliches used in NGO literature, with tongue firmly placed in the cheek:
  • bottom-up
  • disadvantaged
  • charity
  • civil society
  • empowerment
  • grassroots
  • independence
  • morality
  • social capital
  • sustainability
  • top-down

Return to the NGO Page

Comments and suggestions:
Hari Srinivas -