Cover Image
close this bookNGO Guidelines for Good Policy and Practice (Commonwealth Foundation)
close this folderPart I: NGOs: what they are and what they do
close this folder1. The rationale and purpose of this report
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1.1 The origins and scope of this report
View the document1.2 An overview of the report
View the document1.3 The purpose of this report
View the document1.4 The importance of NGOs
View the document1.5 The global dimension
View the document1.6 The local dimension
View the document1.7 NGOs, government and civil society

1.3 The purpose of this report

NGOs have grown enormously in numbers over the past 20 years and more. At the same time the scope of their work has widened, to the extent that they are now concerned or involved with almost every aspect of human need and endeavour. Some of them have global impact and significance while others affect individuals, particular communities or groups at the local level.

It is generally recognised that this quantitative and qualitative explosion of NGOs and their work has been beneficial to the present and future well-being of the world and its peoples. But despite the expansion of NGOs as an important sector of civil society, relatively little has been done to define them and the scope of their work. Additionally it has been recognised that the practices of NGOs vary widely. This has sometimes led to confusion about their role and function as well as suspicion on the part of some governments, who have sometimes seen them as a threat. Models of good policy and practice have emerged however, which provide useful indicators and standards. In addition, several decades of experience in developing relations between governments, NGOs and funders have helped to identify productive ways of working together.

It is important to stress, however, that the guidelines contained in this report should be seen not as a prescription developed from such accumulated experience. Instead, they are a set of principles and goals to which those involved in or with NGOs can aspire, and which can represent a common foundation on which individual organisations and countries can build their own unique policies and practices.