The World Bank defines non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) as “private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development” (Duke University, n.d.). A broader definition will refer to NGOs any organization that exists on voluntary contributions and private funds and pursues some social, non-commercial issue (Wikipedia, 2006). The appearance and proliferation of NGOs is a sign of increased public participation in decision-making at various levels of government. NGOs are an important vehicle for the self-expression of civil society that lays the foundation for true democracy with the public involvement.
Background of NGOs
Mansbach & Rhodes (2005) ascribe four functions to the NGOs (pp.197-199):
- Setting Agendas – determining matters they want to reveal to policy makers
- Negotiating Outcomes – direct participation in negotiations
- Conferring Legitimacy – they serve as a channel to express the opinion of the public
- Implementing Solutions – participating in providing solutions to the issue in place of a government-aligned actor whose actions could be suspicious.