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Starting a NGO or a NPO

Starting a non-governmental organization or a non-profit organization (NGO/NPO) can be a lengthy, time consuming process. However, the difficulties of the process can be minimized by following a consistent series of steps and seeking advice when needed.

NGO/NPOs provide much needed services to their respective communities, and thorough planning during the start-up process is crucial to develop an effective and professional organization that is able to meet the myrid challenges faced by the world today.

There are many classifications of NGO/NPOs as determined by individual country's laws and regulations, including co-ops, credit unions, societies, people's organizations or community groups etc. The classifications can also designate NGO/NPOs as a religious, charitable, educational, scientific, literary or other organizations. These organizations may qualify for income tax exemption, or other financial benefits. Regional and local tax exemptions may also apply on a region by region basis.

This article provides an outline of the general steps needed for starting and incorporating a NGO/NPO. Detailed instructions for each of these steps can typically be obtained from local governments or a designated government agency/board, an attorney, or a local nonprofit management support organization.

The issues covered here are of a very general nature, and actual situations will, of course, vary from country to country. Starting an NGO/NPO may only require a strong vision, or a need, for people to come together as a group and work to satisfy that need. NGOs can range from 1-2 persons working on a single local issue to an international NGO network with thousands of members working globally on a range of issues.

  • Key Ingredients of an NGO
  • Establish the NGO's Board of Directors
  • Develop the NGO's Bye-laws
  • Register the NGO
  • Funding and Fund-Raising
  • Office Management
  • Networking and Project Management


  • Special Thanks to: Global Development Research Centre

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