The Different Types of Development Organizations

There are five groups that are commonly described as international development organizations.


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Civil Society Organizations

Examples: Oxfam, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Also known as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Non-Profits & Not-for-Profits. Civil society is an umbrella term for an extremely diverse and numerous group, including charities, religious and private foundations. There are both international and national civil society groups.

Civil society groups are started and owned by private individuals or organizations. They are independent of governments, but may receive (in some cases substantial) funding from governments.

Private Sector

Examples: commercial companies

This is a term that describes any privately owned group or person involved in profitable activities. Of course this is a huge group, and distinct from the other categories as organizations within the private sector are all for-profit.

Research Institutions

Examples: universities, think tanks

Defined as any group involved in investigative study for scientific or educational purposes. They may be privately owned or funded by the state.

Bilateral Organizations

Examples: United States of Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID)

These are government bodies that focus on development in foreign countries, often with an underlying goal of furthering their domestic policies or gaining political credit. In some cases the aid is not tied to any conditions, but normally funding is used for some degree of political influence.

Multilateral Organizations

Examples: United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Bank

Super-national bodies that have been created with representatives from the governments of many member states. These may be closed groups, e.g. NATO or theoretically open organizations, e.g. the United Nations.

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2 Responses to “The Different Types of Development Organizations”

  1. keira Says:

    I was wondering how to get involved in helping, building houses, helping give food etc. Humanitarian work. I want to know how yo get involved.


    I am a recent graduate of social work and I would love to know how best to break into the world of development work.

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