A non-governmental organization (NGO) is an organization that is not part of a government and was not founded by states. NGOs are therefore typically independent of governments. Although the definition can technically include for-profit corporations, the term is generally restricted to social, cultural, legal, and environmental advocacy groups having goals that are primarily noncommercial. NGOs are usually non-profit organizations that gain at least a portion of their funding from private sources. Current usage of the term is generally associated with the United Nations and authentic NGOs are those that are so designated by the UN.
Because the label "NGO" is considered too broad by some, as it might cover anything that is non-governmental, many NGOs now prefer the term private voluntary organization (PVO).
A 1995 UN report on global governance estimated that there are nearly 29,000 international NGOs. National numbers are even higher: The United States has an estimated 2 million NGOs, most of them formed in the past 30 years. Russia has 65,000 NGOs. Dozens are created daily. In Kenya alone, some 240 NGOs come into existence every year.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world's largest group of humanitarian NGO's.
Though voluntary associations of citizens have existed throughout history, NGOs along the lines seen today, especially on the international level, have developed in the past two centuries. One of the first such organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, was founded in 1863.
The phrase non-governmental organization came into use with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945 with provisions in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter  for a consultative role for organizations that neither are governments nor member states – see Consultative Status. The definition of international NGO (INGO) is first given in resolution 288 (X) of ECOSOC on February 27, 1950: it is defined as 'any international organisation that is not founded by an international treaty'.