A major objective of many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is welfare work in relation to poverty and disease or in respect to social groups such as the elderly or children. Some other types of NGOs help groups of people to unite at a grass-roots level and find their voice in local and national government. The groups that NGOs aim to help may have an economic focus, such as producer groups, or they could be marginalized for other reasons, as with women’s groups or ethnic groups. Some NGOs aim to help small businesses in particular geographical areas and may concentrate on particular functions such as providing training or microfinance. NGOs also are formed to help scientific research in areas such as improved agricultural methods or the elimination of certain infectious diseases.
Objectives of NGOs may include assisting producer groups to come together as pressure groups and find ways to influence policy on matters that concern them. An NGO can make these groups aware of their rights and educate them on ways to demand greater political participation. An example is the work of NGOs involved in fair trade issues. These may help producer groups to negotiate improved terms for selling their produce and may campaign on an international level for fairer world trade.
Objectives of NGOs concerned with the empowerment of women may include activities on a political or economic level. Such an NGO might be concerned with issues concerning the education and health of women and would help women’s groups to use their united strength to stand up for their rights in the political arena. Some NGOs also are concerned with helping women in business.
Some objectives of NGOs involve assisting small businesses in gaining access to credit and finding markets for their produce. These NGOs may, for example, provide microfinance, including loans to small business and savings and insurance products for low-income households. Such NGOs may support economic development by helping households to use any money they earn to accumulate assets and insure themselves against adverse situations.
Other objectives of NGOs include promoting the use of appropriate technology and assisting research and development into new technology. This type of NGO may concentrate on problems in agriculture such as crop diseases or harmful insects. NGOs also may research improved agricultural equipment that is appropriate for a region's particular agricultural conditions.
Other types of NGOs may help research disease and look for affordable cures for serious illnesses. These may include NGOs that mainly are concerned with the welfare of children and want to stop children from falling victim to preventable diseases. These NGOs also may assist with research into cheaper vaccines and ensure that children are immunized.