NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 29, 2004

Governments around the world are increasingly interacting with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that range from unions to environmental groups to charities and foundations. NGOs are part of a large, influential, non-profit "citizen sector," say observers.

According to Independent Sector:

  • The growth rate of employment in the non-profit sector between 1997 and 2001 was significantly greater than that in private business or government.
  • It reported that non-profit employment has doubled in the last 25 years and now represents 9.5 percent of the U.S. work force.
  • Americans give some $240 billion a year to private charities and a like amount in volunteer services, if you value the time they devote based on the hourly earnings of production workers.

Citizens group often work faster and more effectively than government agencies because they aren't burdened by bureaucracy and regulation. Likewise, NGOs are not constrained by borders:

  • The French group Doctors Without Borders now has 2,500 volunteers practicing medicine and publicizing human-rights violations in 80 countries.
  • Geneva Global advises philanthropic organizations on how to contribute to the worthiest charity causes and claims it can change a life for as little as $25.

David Bornstein, former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, says that NGOs are thriving because more people today have the freedom, time, wealth, health, exposures, social mobility and confidence to address social problems in bold new ways.

Source: George Melloan, "As NGOs Multiply, They Expand a New 'Private Sector,'" Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB108785640404043424,00.html


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