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What is an NGO? 

The acronym NGO stands for Non-Governmental Organization. Strictly speaking, though, any private organization is a non-governmental organization; the term NGO is used to identify organizations whose fundamental aim is social but that are not associated with any government.

What is the origin of the term NGO? 

The first uses of the term NGO date back to 1945, when the United Nations (UN) was created. The UN — which is an intergovernmental organization — included certain specialized agencies (non-governmental organizations) as observers in its assemblies.

Later on, the term was used more widely. According to the UN, an NGO is any private organization that is independent of any government administration, as long as it is not for profit and is not a criminal group or a political party.

How are NGOs classified?

NGOs are difficult to define and classify because the term is not used consistently in all regions and areas. In some countries, the term NGO applies to organizations that would be called NPOs (non-profit organizations) in other countries, and vice versa. As a result, classifications usually refer to their areas of operations, such as regional or international, environmental, social, etc.

How is an NGO formed? 

NGOs are a form of civil partnership. They are usually made up of and are in the hands of ordinary citizens who share a vision and mission. NGOs can obtain state funding, as well as funding from other NGOs or from individuals and companies. To maintain their autonomy in management and impartiality, some NGOs avoid official funding and work with donations and volunteers. Depending on the country where they are based, NGOs have to take different steps to be established officially and recognized as such.

How to create an NGO in Spain

To create an NGO in Spain, one must:

  1. Determine an ideology. You must state why you want to create an NGO, its purpose, what kind of tasks it will perform, and how it will do so.
  2. Draft the statutes, the internal rules governing the NGO, and all aspects related to its operation.
  3. Choose a name, making sure it is not used by any other NGO in the registry of associations, foundations, etc.
  4. Find a headquarters.
  5. Determine its scope of action, which may be local, state, or international.
  6. Define its purpose.
  7. Describe the activities that will be carried out to achieve its objectives.
  8. Determine who the founding members are and what their role is.
  9. Indicate how it is to be financed. Since an NGO is not for profit, it must be funded through voluntary contributions from individuals, companies, or entities, whether public or private.
  10. Determine how decisions are to be made.
  11. Choose the NGO’s legal form, which may be an association, a foundation, etc. The NGO will have to meet different requirements depending on the form it takes.
  12. Draft the founding act, the official document which gives life to the NGO and includes details about the members and their positions, acceptance of the statutes, etc.
  13. Get the NGO listed on the proper registry, depending on the legal form it takes.
  14. Request a TIN from the Tax Agency to be able to make commercial transactions.
  15. Register with Social Security to hire workers.

What are the largest NGOs in Spain?

The ten largest non-governmental organizations in Spain are:

  • Doctors Without Borders.
  • Red Cross (within the international institution).
  • UNHCR.
  • WWF Spain.
  • Save The Children
  • Oxfam Spain.
  • Amnesty Spain.
  • Greenpeace Spain.
  • Adra.

What benchmarks are there in Spain for private programs supporting NGOs?

Since 2008, Ferrovial has featured the Social Infrastructure Program, which was created for development cooperation. Its aim is to expand coverage and access to water for human consumption and basic sanitation among vulnerable groups in Africa and Latin America. The program’s call is addressed to all private non-profit entities that are legally established and registered in Spain, declaring to be of public utility.

Fun facts about NGOs

  • If NGOs were a country, they would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.
  • Three out of four NGO partners are women, but most leadership positions are held by men.
  • India has 3.3 million non-profit organizations, about one NGO for every 400 people.
  • There are more than 129,000 NGOs in Europe.

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