In the world of community outreach, there are two main types of organizations to focus on: non-governmental organizations (also called NGOs for short) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs for short).
“Both types of groups are doing excellent work all around the world,” said Michael Freund, founder of Shavei Israel. “But there are certain differences, particularly when it comes to how and why they operate, that people need to be aware of moving forward.”
The Differences Between Nonprofits and NGOs: Breaking Things Down
“Ultimately, the biggest thing that separates a nonprofit from an NGO is their mission,” said Rabbi Michael Freund. “They may seem similar on the surface, but all it takes is a quick look at what each type of organization is doing to see where those differences begin to emerge.”
As the name implies, an NGO is any organization that functions independently of any government, regardless of where they were formed or what particular country they may be operating in. While they may occasionally receive funding from a government entity, they are not beholden to them – nor is the work they’re doing dictated or restricted by that government in any way. They also do not operate with any type of formal representation from the government.
Because of that, the kind of work that they do usually falls into one of a few different categories. You will often find an NGO at the forefront of community health and education programs, for example. They deal a lot with environmental issues, with factors like renewable energy and sustainability being top priorities.
NGOs also often focus on major issues like the rights of both women and children.
While an NGO is the “catch-all” term for this type of organization, there are many different types that you may encounter. A CSO would be a “Civil Society Organization,” for example. An INGO would be an “International NGO.” A GSO would be a “Grassroots Support Organization.” The list goes on and on.
A nonprofit organization, by design, is simply a group that has been created for any purpose other than making money. Any income that is brought in is used to fund further efforts – none of it is given out to members or organizational leaders in any way.
Nonprofit organizations tend to raise the majority of their funding through the efforts of their management team, who will reach out to private donors regularly. They also have certain legal requirements that they must adhere to, which include things like offering regular reports on their economic activity, the tax status of donors, and more.
Nonprofit organizations often do work that is charitable in a variety of ways. They can participate in efforts that are driven by goals like increasing literacy in a community, for example. They also often participate in religious activities (although this varies depending on which other organizations they have aligned themselves with).
Additional Considerations About Nonprofits and NGOs
One of the biggest differences between nonprofit organizations and NGOs ultimately comes down to the scope of the work that is undertaken by the former. Nonprofits are often closely related to entities such as churches, alumni associations, and similar organizations. They do a lot of work with specific groups that tend to exist in a precise geographic area. That’s why oftentimes they are referred to as community organizations, among other terms.
An NGO, however, is usually a broader organization with a scope that is more internationally focused. They are often at the forefront of disaster relief all over the world, like when a particular area gets hit by a catastrophic natural disaster.
In the end, both nonprofit organizations and NGOs are doing critical work to help benefit the lives of others daily. It’s just that they tend to go about things in somewhat different ways. However, the end goal remains the same: they are groups comprised of dedicated, passionate, and talented people who are all doing their part to help make the world a better place.
About Michael Freund
Rabbi Michael Freund is many things – including an author, a syndicated columnist, and an advocate that passionately serves the Jewish community in Israel. After graduating with honors from the prestigious Princeton University, he went on to receive his MBA from Columbia University.
With his higher education completed, Freund moved to Israel where he has raised his family over the years, all the while continuing to be an active participant in any way that he can with both humanitarian and political efforts.
To learn more about Michael Freund, you can visit his Linkedin profile.