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Non-Governmental Organization
aka: NGO

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Non-governmental organizations, commonly abbreviated NGOs, are independent entities often international in scope and shepherding thousands of employees, focus on world problems such as poverty, health care or women's rights. Unlike corporations, NGOs are not-profit. Real NGOs that are well-known include the Red Cross, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International.

In fiction, these organizations may be fictionalized versions of real NGOs, or entirely new organizations that might take on real or fantastic threats - say, an NGO that focuses on the threat of robot invasions. Such non-state actors tend to be supported by rich benefactors, either eccentric philanthropists or a shadowy council.

If they're not really that non-governmental, they're called "quango", short for "quasi-NGO".

Compare/contrast N.G.O. Superpower. Due to its profit motive, a MegaCorp generally isn't counted as a true NGO despite its non-governmental nature. A Fake Charity is when an individual or group masquerades as one of these in order to make money for themselves.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • District 9: Multinational United likes to think of themselves as this. However, they are more of a MegaCorp
  • SPECTRE from the James Bond films. They're a terrorist organization who ironically use beneficent NGOs as covers.
  • The Men in Black become this after cutting off ties with the United States government.

  • EarthGuard and Wings Over the World in Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju. EarthGuard is the local Who You Gonna Call? group, but unlike the Diogenes, the Unnamables or the Opera Ghost Agency, which (at least nominally) report to a government, they're an NGO covering the whole Pacific Rim and have an internal faction that is not operating in people's best interests. WOtW, meanwhile, is a supposed humanitarian relief charity, which is actually what you'd get if a Gerry Anderson-style organisation was being run by a vampiric version of a sixties supervillainess.
  • The Wilmarth Foundation in the Cthulhu Mythos, which attempts to deal with the Great Old Ones.
  • "The Encyclopedists": The Board of Trustees believe that the Encyclopedia Foundation shouldn’t be involved with local politics due to their Imperial charter to preserve all scientific knowledge in the galaxy and publish a Encyclopedia Galactica. The local Kingdoms, however, point out that the Emperor and their navy is very far away, while they are very close. Each one is interested in taking their technology for themselves.
  • The Howard Foundation in Robert A. Heinlein's Future History, whose purpose is extending human lifespans through selective breeding.
  • In The Irregular at Magic High School, the Magian Society/Company was created so that magicians wouldn't have to rely on exploitative governments or elitist Clans for protection. The idea is to give them job opportunities that aren't military in nature, and thereby advance their human rights as people and not weapons. It's funded by the Stellar Generator, an extremely efficient power plant that requires magicians to operate it.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • ComStar and the Word of Blake in BattleTech, who are in charge of interstellar communications in the Inner Sphere.
  • The United Nations Tribunal for International Law, or UNTIL, in the Champions universe. They're often the first line of defense when supervillains drop by for a visit.
  • The Aeon Society, later Aeon Trinity, in Trinity Universe (White Wolf).

    Video Games 
  • Vanguard, a special branch of the U.N. in City of Heroes. A joint task force of both heroes and villains, its primary goal is to protect Earth from invasions by the Rikti and other extraterrestrial sources.
  • The Brotherhood of Nod in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series. GDI is a quango in Tiberian Dawn, as an autonomous organization answerable to and primarily funded by the United Nations Security Council (by Tiberian Sun, it pretty much is the government for significant parts of the human population, and it has become official by Tiberian Twilight at the latest).
  • The Grey Wardens in Dragon Age: Origins.
  • The World Detective Organization from Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is described as an extralegal organization dedicated to eliminating the world’s unsolved mysteries.
  • Philanthropy from Metal Gear, an NGO formed by Solid Snake and Otacon to prevent the proliferation of Metal Gears.
  • The Carrington Institute in Perfect Dark.
  • BSAA (the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance) from Resident Evil.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation, which stands for "Special Containment Procedures", is a secret international organization dedicated to containing anomalous objects and creatures.
  • Tower of God: The Walhaiksong, founded by Urek Mazino, is an organization that seeks to leave the Tower instead of climbing or residing in it and has as much influence as the Ten Great Families.

    Western Animation 
  • ISIS, where Archer works. Deconstructed at the start of Season 5 when it's raided and shut down by the FBI, and the protagonists are arrested on treason charges.
  • The Kids Next Door of Codename: Kids Next Door, an international organization of kids fighting adult tyranny.
  • The Order of The White Lotus has ascended to this status in The Legend of Korra. They transcend national boundaries and are recognized by all governments. Not only do they protect and train the Avatar, but their mission is also to safeguard and promote the public welfare, especially when dealing with global threats such as the Red Lotus.
  • The Center in Martin Mystery, also an MiB agency.
  • WOOHP (World Organization of Human Protection) from Totally Spies!. Their background is a bit unclear; they have connections with several governments but don't rely on them.

    Real Life 
  • In Afghanistan, many NGOs provide aid and assistance to the Taliban and their allied insurgent groups. Sometimes the Taliban demands medical aid as a condition for the NGO to operate in their area, while other times the NGO actually supports Islamic jihad. When these groups are identified and targeted, their governments refuse to admit they colluded with the enemy to avoid being shamed.
  • The National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), originally created by Clive Cussler for his Dirk Pitt Adventures novels featuring Dirk Pitt, then defictionalized. The fictional version was the oceanic equivalent of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Real Life version is an NGO and not likely run as it is portrayed in the novels.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikipedia as part of its mission "to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally", is an arguable defictionalization of the Encyclopedia Foundation.

Alternative Title(s): Non Governmental Organisation, NGO