NGOs try to improve the lives of other people through humanitarian, educational, healthcare, public policy, social, human rights, environmental, and other activism and services. They bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political participation through the provision of information.
NGOs can be funded by governments or by donations; some are run primarily by volunteers. Some may be registered as charities, while others may be registered for tax exemption based on recognition of social purposes.
The term 'NGO' is not always used consistently. In some countries, the term NGO is applied to an organization that in another country would be called an NPO (nonprofit organization), and vice versa.
One characteristic that NGOs have in common is that they are non-profit organizations that are not hindered by short-term financial objectives.
NGOs can have employees (including directors) who receive a regular salary.