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The UN definition of an NGO or a non-governmental organization is a legally established organization formulated by legal persons that functions individually without any assistance from any government. In the cases where NGOs are being funded completely or partly by governments, the NGO will keep its non-governmental standing by eliminating government representatives from participating in the organization (Gamboni, 2006).
The word is usually relevant only to organizations that follow some wider social purpose that has political characteristics, but that are not openly political organizations such as political parties. According to a definition by World Bank, the NGOs are “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” (World Bank, 2007).
A 1995 UN report on the global authority predicted that there are approximately 29,000 international NGOs. National numbers have risen even higher than that: The United States alone has an estimated number of 2 million NGOs, among which most were formulated in the past 30 years. On the other hand, we see that Russia has 65,000 NGOs. Many of the NGOs are created every day. In Kenya only, around 240 NGOs come into being with the passing of every year.
Many different types of organizations are now defined as being NGOs. There is no commonly recognized description of an NGO and the word carries diverse meanings in different situations. Nonetheless, there are some important features. Undoubtedly, an NGO must be liberated from the direct control of any government (Lewis, 2006).
Also according to Lewis (2006), there are three more widely recognized features that eliminate specific types of bodies from consideration. An NGO will not be established as a political party. it will always remain non-profit-making and it shall never take part in any criminal activities, and most importantly it will be non-violent. These features relate to general usage, because they equal the conditions set for acknowledgment by the United Nations (Lewis, 2006) The borders can sometimes be slightly diminished: various NGOs may in reality be closely related to a political party. many NGOs create revenue from activities that are commercial, predominantly consultancy contracts or publication sales. and a minute number of NGOs may be related to intense political disputes. However, according to Nanda (2010) an NGO is never founded as a government bureaucracy, a criminal association, a party or a rebel group. Thus, an NGO is majorly projected as an autonomous volunteer association of people working together on a constant basis, for some mutual drive, other than attaining government office, generating revenues or taking part in illegal doings. Furthermore, according to Nanda (2010) the term NGO is very comprehensive and includes many different types of organizations. In the arena of development, NGOs vary in size from large charities based in the North such as CARE, Oxfam and World Vision to community-based NGOs in the South. . They also comprise of research institutes, professional associations churches as well as lobby groups. An increasing figure of NGOs are involved in both operational and sponsorship workings. Moreover, some of the advocacy groups, while not being openly involved in planning and executing projects, concentrate on particular project-related concerns (Willitts, 2002). According to Ronalds (2010), NGOs are existent for a range of purposes, typically to promote the political as well as social goals of their associates. The examples of this could include cultivating the state of the natural environment, boosting the adherence of human rights, enlightening the general masses about the welfare of the disadvantaged, or demonstrating on behalf of a corporate agenda. However, there is a plethora of such organizations and their aims cover a comprehensive range of political and philosophical situations.