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Civil Society 1

NGOs: A User Friendly Definition
By Alexandra Luminita Petrescu

A nongovernmental organization  (NGO) represents a group of people who are not a part of government or state structures; yet work in cooperation with these public agencies.

Paraphrasing Margaret Mead, the American anthropologist, an NGO organization can be defined as a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens that can change the world. But, before changing the world, the group is recommended to start with positive developments within the community it's members live and work. It's good to think BIG or (globally), but to work

Therefore, the group members should define the organization's mission: what they want to accomplish in the future. The mission is very important in that it has the same role as a compass for a traveler in a long and challenging journey. In this journey it is recommended to have a leader or a group of leaders who can provide a good direction. That is the job of the board of
administration, which acts according to "The Rule of the 3 W's: Work, Wisdom and Wealth." The members of the board should be committed and involved members of the community who can contribute their skills, expertise and money or should have the means to raise funds for the organization. The board thus establishes a strategy based on the dynamics of its mission.

To implement the strategy and the organization's programs an executive director and a skillful staff is strongly recommended, as well as money and volunteers. Recruiting new members, motivating volunteers and raising funds are very challenging tasks, but an effective NGO should focus on ways (sometimes very creative) to involve citizens and persuade them to participate in community life, to build trust and a sense of achievement.

NGOs, perceived as major players in the process of change, can mobilize broader public attention towards society's problems and needs. They are the principal vehicle through which communities can voice their concerns. NGOs can draw attention to social and political issues, can advocate for people whose voices and opinions are not always taken into consideration andintegrate these perspectives into social and political life.

NGOs work within a diversity of fields: human rights, environment, education, culture, social work, and health care, all according to the interest of their members.

Once its mission is accomplished (which is the ideal situation) an NGO can dissolve itself. This journey has ended. But the world is still full of challenges.

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