A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) is an organization which is independent from governments and their policies. Generally, although not always, these are non-profit organizations, and gain at least a significant proportion of their funding from private sources. Because of the negative definition, (the implication that an NGO is anything that is not government), many NGOs now prefer the term Private voluntary organization (PVO).
They exist for a variety of different purposes, usually to further political/social goals of their members. Some example goals improving the state of the natural environment, encourage the observance of human rights, or improve the welfare of the disadvantaged, or represent a corporate agenda, but there are a huge number of such organisations and their goals cover a broad range of political and philosophical positions.
NGOs also vary in their methods. Some act primarily as political pressure groups, others primarily conduct programs to help their goals (for instance, an NGO concerned with poverty alleviation providing food aid to the needy).
The relationship between business, governments, and NGOs can be quite complex and sometimes antagonistic, particularly when NGOs act to oppose some activities of governments and businesses.