NGO Vs INGO: Difference, Similarities & Examples

NGO Vs INGO: Difference, Similarities & Examples

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) play a vital role in addressing social, environmental, and humanitarian issues globally. These organizations are essential components of civil society and serve as catalysts for positive change. 

In the United States, both NGOs and INGOs contribute significantly to various causes, but they operate with distinct scopes and objectives. This blog explores the differences, similarities, and provides examples of these organizations, shedding light on their crucial roles in society.

Understanding NGOs and INGOs

NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)

NGOs are organizations that operate independently from government control, though they may receive some funding from government sources or international bodies. They are typically focused on local or national issues and work to address various societal concerns. The combined revenue generated by nonprofit organizations in the United States constitutes approximately 6% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Key Characteristics of NGOs:

  1. Local or National Focus: NGOs primarily concentrate on issues within their respective countries. They often work directly with communities and governments to create change at the grassroots level.
  2. Diverse Goals: NGOs can have diverse missions and objectives. Some may focus on specific issues like women’s rights or disaster relief, while others may have a broader approach.
  3. Funding Sources: NGOs raise funds through donations, grants, and partnerships. They may receive some government funding but usually maintain their independence.

INGOs (International Non-Governmental Organizations)

INGOs, as the name suggests, have a global or international focus. They operate across borders and collaborate with multiple countries to address global challenges. These organizations often deal with issues that transcend national boundaries, such as global health crises, refugee rights, and climate change.

Key Characteristics of INGOs:

  1. Global Reach: INGOs operate on an international scale and work to address issues that require cross-border collaboration. They often have offices and projects in multiple countries.
  2. Specialized Expertise: INGOs are often experts in specific global issues, such as humanitarian aid, international development, or environmental conservation.
  3. Funding Sources: INGOs rely on a mix of funding sources, including government grants, private donations, international agencies, and philanthropic foundations.

Similarities between NGOs and INGOs

  1. Non-Governmental Status: Both NGOs and INGOs are non-governmental entities, which means they are not part of the government structure and operate independently.
  2. Mission-Driven: Both types of organizations are mission-driven and focused on addressing specific societal or global issues. Their primary goal is to create positive change in their chosen areas of work.
  3. Reliance on Donations and Grants: NGOs and INGOs depend on external funding sources, such as donations from individuals, corporations, and grants from government agencies and foundations, to sustain their operations and fund their projects.
  4. Volunteer Engagement: Both NGOs and INGOs often rely on the support of volunteers who contribute their time and expertise to advance the organization’s mission.
  5. Advocacy and Awareness: Both types of organizations engage in advocacy and awareness campaigns to promote their causes and influence policies that impact their work.

Examples of NGOs and INGOs in the USA

Let’s explore some notable examples of NGOs and INGOs operating in the United States to gain a better understanding of their missions and the impact they make.

NGOs in the USA

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is one of the most recognized NGOs in the United States. It focuses on disaster response, blood donation, health and safety training, and support to military families. The organization operates at the national and local levels and relies on a vast network of volunteers.

During Fiscal Year 2021, spanning from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the Red Cross actively addressed 1,000 daily disasters, extending support in the form of shelter, nourishment, and solace to those impacted.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is an NGO dedicated to providing affordable housing for families in need. They build and repair homes in partnership with low-income families, emphasizing the importance of homeownership in creating stable communities.

Feeding America

Feeding America is a nationwide network of food banks that addresses hunger and food insecurity in the United States. They distribute food to millions of Americans through a network of local food banks and meal programs.

Feeding America comprises a vast national network, encompassing 200 food banks, 21 statewide associations, and a staggering 60,000 partner food pantries and meal programs

INGOs in the USA

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières)

Doctors Without Borders is an international medical humanitarian INGO that provides medical care to people affected by crises, including armed conflicts, epidemics, and natural disasters. They operate in over 70 countries and are known for their impartiality and dedication to helping those in need.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

WWF is a global environmental conservation INGO. While headquartered in the USA, WWF operates worldwide to protect endangered species, conserve ecosystems, and address climate change issues.

Amnesty International USA

Amnesty International is a global human rights organization with a strong presence in the United States. They work to expose and combat human rights abuses through research, advocacy, and campaigns. Amnesty International publicly recorded compelling evidence of crimes against humanity or war crimes occurring in the year 2022 within a minimum of 20 out of the 156 countries and territories under the organization’s observation.

Differences in Scope and Impact

While NGOs and INGOs share similarities and often collaborate on common goals, their scope and impact can differ significantly due to their areas of focus.

NGOs typically have a more localized or national focus, and their impact is concentrated on addressing specific issues within a particular region or country. For example, an NGO working on education in a specific U.S. state will have a direct impact on improving education outcomes in that state.

INGOs, on the other hand, have a global reach and address issues that transcend national borders. Their impact extends to multiple countries and regions, making them critical actors in addressing global challenges. For instance, an INGO dedicated to refugee rights operates in various countries to provide assistance and advocate for refugees’ protection and well-being on a global scale.

Collaboration between NGOs and INGOs

Despite their differences, NGOs and INGOs often collaborate to maximize their effectiveness. This collaboration can be seen in various forms:

  1. Project Partnerships: NGOs and INGOs frequently collaborate on specific projects or initiatives that align with their respective missions. For example, an INGO focused on clean water might partner with a local NGO in a developing country to implement water purification systems.
  2. Capacity Building: INGOs may provide training, resources, and funding to strengthen the capacity of local NGOs, enabling them to better address local issues.
  3. Advocacy and Policy Influence: Both types of organizations often work together to advocate for policy changes at the national and international levels. Their collective voices can have a more significant impact on shaping policies and regulations.


NGOs and INGOs in the United States play crucial roles in addressing a wide range of issues, from poverty and healthcare to global humanitarian crises and environmental conservation. As we’ve seen through the examples provided, these organizations work tirelessly to create positive change. In a world filled with complex challenges, NGOs and INGOs in the USA continue to be beacons of hope, working towards a better, more just, and sustainable future for all.

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