Politics in Minutes (2016)

Non-governmental organizations

Not everything in a society is run by the government or its various bureaucratic departments. Certain elements are managed by independent organizations, which can range from small community groups to large international organizations. Some seek to influence government policy on specific issues, while others aim to complement public services, or provide them where governments do not. These non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are often charitable or non-profit-making organizations with altruistic aims and objectives. NGOs are less accountable than a similar governmental service, however, and the line between them and commercial organizations is not always clear. There are also organizations that are publicly funded to carry out some of the work of government departments, but not controlled directly by central government. Sometimes known as quasi-non-governmental organizations, or ‘quangos’, these include organizations constituted to do specific tasks, such as running prisons or overseeing the provision of public services.


Headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington D.C.