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An NGO By Any Other Name…

Jaded observers of international relations will no doubt be shocked, yes shocked, to learn that some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are "not inspired by the principles and values of voluntarism." Thus notes Alan Fowler of Great Britain’s International NGO Training and Research Centre in his book Striking a Balance: A Guide to Enhancing the Effectiveness of ...

Jaded observers of international relations will no doubt be shocked, yes shocked, to learn that some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are "not inspired by the principles and values of voluntarism." Thus notes Alan Fowler of Great Britain’s International NGO Training and Research Centre in his book Striking a Balance: A Guide to Enhancing the Effectiveness of Non-Governmental Organisations in International Development (London: Earthscan, 1997). Fowler has compiled a list of acronyms used around the world to describe these "pretender NGOs" that are often wolves in nonprofits’ clothing. Some of the highlights:

BRINGO (Briefcase NGO): an NGO that is no more than a briefcase carrying a well-written proposal

CONGO (Commercial NGO): NGOs set up by businesses in order to participate in bids, help win contracts, and reduce taxation

GRINGO (Government run and initiated NGO): variation of a QUANGO (see below), but with the function of countering the actions of real NGOs; common in Africa

MANGO (Mafia NGO): a criminal NGO providing services of the money laundering, enforcement, and protection variety; prevalent in Eastern Europe

MONGO (My own NGO): NGOs that are the personal property of an individual, often dominated by his or her ego

PANGO (Party NGO): an aspiring, defeated, or banned political party or politician dressed as an NGO; species of Central Asia and Indo-China

QUANGO (Quasi NGO): parastatal body created by government, often to enable better conditions of service or to create political distance

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