How to Register an NGO with the United Nation?

How to Register an NGO with the United Nation?

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a pivotal role in addressing various global issues such as poverty, human rights, education, healthcare, and environmental conservation. To gain international recognition and access to resources, many NGOs seek to register with the United Nations (UN).

In order to secure registration as an NGO with the United Nations, the organization is required to submit an application for ECOSOC consultative status, a process overseen in accordance with ECOSOC resolution 1996/31. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of how to register an NGO with the United Nations in the United States.

Why Register Your NGO with the United Nations?

Registering your NGO with the United Nations offers numerous advantages:

Global Recognition: UN-registered NGOs are globally recognized entities, making it easier to collaborate with other organizations, governments, and institutions worldwide.

Access to Funding: UN registration can open doors to funding opportunities, grants, and partnerships with international organizations, increasing your NGO’s financial capacity to pursue its mission.

Networking Opportunities: It provides a platform for networking with other NGOs, governments, and stakeholders, facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Advocacy and Influence: UN-registered NGOs can participate in UN meetings and conferences, allowing them to advocate for their causes and influence policy decisions on a global scale.

Credibility: UN registration enhances your NGO’s credibility and transparency, making it more appealing to donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries.

Steps To Register An NGO with United Nations In The USA

Now, let’s delve into the steps required to register an NGO with the United Nations in the USA.

Step 1: Establish Your NGO

Before embarking on the registration process, ensure that your NGO is legally established and operating in the United States. Here are the key steps:

Choose a Legal Structure: Decide on the legal structure for your NGO, which could be a non-profit corporation, charitable trust, or association. Consult an attorney or legal advisor to determine the most suitable structure for your organization.

Register with the IRS: Apply for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This step is crucial for obtaining tax benefits and attracting donors.

Board of Directors: Form a board of directors responsible for governance and decision-making. Ensure that your board members are committed to your NGO’s mission and possess diverse skills.

Mission and Vision: Out of the 1.8 million nonprofits in the United States, 40% comprise churches, schools, and foundations. Define a clear mission and vision statement for your NGO, outlining your objectives and the impact you aim to create.

Bylaws: Draft and adopt bylaws that govern the internal operations of your organization, including procedures for board meetings, elections, and decision-making.

Financial Management: Establish sound financial management practices, including a budget and accounting system, to maintain transparency and accountability.

Programs and Activities: Develop and implement programs and activities that align with your NGO’s mission and serve your target beneficiaries.

Step 2: Ensure Eligibility

Not all NGOs are eligible for UN registration. To qualify, your organization must meet certain criteria:

Non-Profit Status: Your NGO must be a non-profit entity, which means it operates for charitable, educational, or humanitarian purposes without the primary goal of generating profits.The collective annual revenue of nonprofit organizations in the United States amounts to $2.62 trillion.

Commitment to UN Principles: Your organization should align with the principles and values of the United Nations, including the promotion of human rights, social justice, and sustainable development.

Operational Track Record: The UN typically requires NGOs to have a proven track record of successful projects and activities related to international issues.

Accountability and Transparency: NGOs seeking UN registration must demonstrate transparency in their financial and operational practices.

Global Scope: Your NGO’s activities should have an international or global dimension, addressing issues of global significance.

Step 3: Prepare Required Documentation

To register your NGO with the United Nations in the USA, you will need to prepare a comprehensive set of documentation. This documentation serves to establish your organization’s eligibility and credibility. Here’s what you’ll need:

Registration Certificate: Provide proof of your NGO’s legal registration in the United States, including its tax-exempt status.The organization must confirm that it has a minimum of 2 years of existence as of the date when the Secretariat receives the application.

Mission and Vision Statement: Clearly articulate your NGO’s mission, vision, and objectives. Explain how your organization contributes to global issues and UN goals.

Organizational Profile: Create a detailed profile of your NGO, including its history, governance structure, board members, and staff.

Financial Statements: Submit audited financial statements for the past few years to demonstrate your financial stability and transparency.

Program Documentation: Include information about your organization’s programs, projects, and activities related to international issues. Highlight any partnerships or collaborations with other NGOs or governmental bodies.

Annual Report: Provide an annual report summarizing your NGO’s achievements, challenges, and impact in the past year.

Step 4: Apply for Consultative Status

To register your NGO with the United Nations, you must obtain Consultative Status. Consultative Status is divided into three categories:

General Consultative Status: NGOs with a global scope and a proven track record of work with the UN can apply for this status. It provides the highest level of access and influence.

Special Consultative Status: This status is granted to NGOs that have a more specific focus and are actively engaged in international issues. It offers substantial access to UN meetings and processes.

Roster Status: NGOs that do not meet the criteria for General or Special Consultative Status may be eligible for Roster Status, which provides limited benefits.

To apply for Consultative Status, follow these steps:

  • Visit the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) website and access the online application form.
  • Complete the application form, providing all required documentation and information.
  • Submit your application to the NGO Branch of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
  • Await the review and evaluation of your application by the Committee on NGOs, a subsidiary body of ECOSOC.
  • If approved, you will receive notification of your Consultative Status and the category assigned (General, Special, or Roster).

Step 5: Fulfill Reporting and Engagement Requirements

Once your NGO is registered with the United Nations, you must fulfill certain requirements to maintain your status and actively engage with the UN system:

Annual Report: Submit an annual report to the UN detailing your organization’s activities, achievements, and financial status. This report helps demonstrate your ongoing commitment and impact.

Participation: Actively participate in UN meetings, conferences, and events related to your NGO’s mission. Make use of your Consultative Status to advocate for your cause and collaborate with other stakeholders.

Collaboration: Seek opportunities to collaborate with other NGOs, UN agencies, and governments to address global challenges effectively.

Stay Informed: Stay updated on UN initiatives, policies, and agendas relevant to your NGO’s mission. Regularly communicate with your organization’s members, staff, and board to ensure alignment.


Registering your NGO with the United Nations in the USA is a significant achievement that can elevate your organization’s impact on global issues. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can navigate the registration process successfully.  With dedication and a clear mission, your NGO can contribute meaningfully to the advancement of international goals and the well-being of people worldwide.

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