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What’s the Difference? NPOs vs. IGOs vs. NGOs

NPO: Non-Profit Organization A non-profit organization is a private organization that serves a public service.

IGO: Intergovernmental Organization A structure based on a formal instrument of agreement between nations.

NGO: Non-Governmental Organization An organization that operates independently from any government – though it may receive funding from a government but operates without oversight or representation from that government.

Still confused?  Here’s a closer look at how these organizations are similar and different.

The biggest difference is between IGOs and NPOs and NGOs in that IGOs are within the government scope.  NPOs and NGOs, while they may receive funding from governments, operate independently of governments.  NPOs and NGOs are private organizations.

An example of an IGO is the United Nations.  Examples of NPOs include the Habitat for Humanity and Boys and Girls Club.  Examples of NGOs include Oxfam and Greenpeace.

The distinction between NGO and NPO is a little more blurred.  NGOs are a type of NPO, but they typically have broader international causes.  This differs from an NPO in that they often support causes that are targeted to a local area, which could be defined as the city, county, state, or even nation in which the NPO is located.


Key differences between Non-Government Organizations

(NGO) and Non-Profit Organizations (NPO)

Non-Government Organizations (NGO) Quick Facts

  • organization that operates independently from any government
  • may receive funding from a government
  • operates without oversight or representation from that government
  • there are over 40,000 international NGOs, with the most found in India

NGO Duties


  • community health promotion & education
  • managing emerging health crises
  • environmental issues i.e. sustainable water & energy resources
  • economic empowerment i.e. micro loans, skills training, financial education
  • development projects i.e. school and infrastructure construction
  • women & children’s’ rights


NGO Types

BINGO = Big International NGO
CSO = Civil Society Organization
DONGO = Donor Organized NGO
ENGO = Environmental NGO
GONGO = Government-operated NGOs
INGO = International NGO
QUANGO = Quasi-autonomous NGO
TANGO = Technical Assistance NGO
GSO = Grassroots Support Organization
MANGO = Market Advocacy Organization


Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) Quick Facts

• group organized for purposes other than generating profit
• no part of the organization’s income is distributed to its members, directors, or officers
• offer services and programs through federal, local or state entities
• hire management personnel, and aim to raise substantial funds
• also known as endowments, or foundations that could have large stock fund
• Non-profit organizations do have legal responsibilities, and these may include reporting on:

o Supervision and management
o Economic activity
o Accountability and Auditing provisions
o Tax status of corporate and private donors


NPOs usually fulfill purposes that are:

• Religious
• Charitable
• Scientific
• Public safety
• Literary
• Educational
• Fostering national or international amateur sporting,
• Preventing cruelty to children or animals but all on a much smaller scale than NGO

Summary NGO vs NPO

In some countries NGOs and NPOs are one in the same. Both often work for the benefit of human welfare
and to better society.
The biggest difference with an NGO is the scope of work that most non-profits assume. Many non-profits
are affiliated with churches, boys and girls clubs, and alumni associations. An NGO, on the other hand, has
broader and internationally driven footprint. They are often working in isolated lands with widespread
famine and disease, military bases, and large scale disaster such as hurricane relief.

Where can I find NGO internships & full-time jobs?

1. List of NGOs
2. InterAction: A United Voice for Global Change
3. We connect idealists with opportunities for action
4. OneWorld365: meaningful work

Source Used:
Difference Between NGO and Non-Profit Organizations | Difference Between schema

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