Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)
Perhaps the most well-known example of a nongovernment organisation is the United Nations which was founded in the 1940’s. NGOs are completely independent of government control and operate on a not-for-profit basis. They can run at the community, national or international level for a range of social or political goals e.g., the environment, conservation of wildlife or humanitarian causes.
NGOs often rely on a variety of different types of funding including private donations, membership fees, grants and government contributions. Large NGOs include Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund which both operate internationally.
A charity is a not-for-profit organisation which has to be established exclusively for what is known as public benefit. Some examples of these include relieving poverty, advancing the arts, helping people with diseases such as cancer, or other publicly beneficial activities. Charities goals have to fall into categories that are deemed charitable by the law in order to be registered as a charity.
Charities also have to produce annual reports to show how they are meeting their charitable objectives.
A not-for-profit organisation is simply one where the operations are not for the financial benefit of an individual or board of directors. What makes a not-for-profit organisation different from a charity is that it is not eligible to register as a charity with The Charity Commission. There are fewer restrictions on the charitable work that not-for-profit organisations can carry out as they do not have to meet the criteria of The Charity Commission.
Like charities, most not-for-profit organisations rely on donations, grants and government funding to help them achieve their goals with most work being carried out by volunteers.
Social enterprises are very similar to traditional businesses in that they aim to make a profit, but it is what they do with their profits which makes them different. Profits are reinvested in their business or donated with the goal being to create a positive social or environmental change. Some of the best-known examples of social enterprises are The Big Issue and the Eden Project. Like traditional businesses, social enterprises sell goods or services in the open market which allows them to tackle social problems in their communities.
Most social enterprises are independent businesses which earn more than half of their income from trading. At least half of their profits are reinvested or donated towards their social goals which are clearly set out.