A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and Non-Profit Organization (NPO) both work not for the purpose of making profit but for social good. Many of their goals and initiatives are similar to each other as well which is why often times the public would get confused on the differences of these two organizations.
To begin, an NGO works outside the government body but would sometimes still be funded by government agencies. Likewise, NGOs also focus on large projects and would often even go international in the said projects. These projects would include aiding the needy and underprivileged communities in developing countries. On the other hand, NPOs are normally partnered with churches or local entities for the improvement of areas locally.
Government agencies are not involved in the running of an NGO but often times allocate a portion of their funds for the various projects run by NGOs. Generally speaking, NGOs usually focus on areas alarming to the inhabitants of developing countries like health, education, social protection, environmental issues and inequality.
NPOs, as their name clearly states, do not gain personal profit in their operations. Their structure may include an elected board of directors who work for the organization but do not benefit or profit from the funds earned by the organization. All funds earned directly go to the projects NPOs have planned out. Funding for NPO projects usually come from industries relating to religion, scientific advancements, philanthropic organizations, or even government bodies.
In the case of NPOs, after they have already registered themselves as an NPO, they are already able to begin raising funds for their various projects. Similarly, they will also be able to start applying for grants from different grant-funding agencies. The case may be quite different for NGOs. Since NGOs are working on cases and issues far greater than NPOs given that they will be working on international issues mostly focusing on developing countries, NGO funding agencies are not immediately able to get in touch.
Worldwide, there are over forty thousand NGOs who function internationally, most of which have their origins in India. The issues NGOs work for are those relating to society and the economy. Cases like equality, human rights, and empowerment all belong to the categories various NGOs from all over the world work on. Other categories like arts and culture, research, and similar topics are handles mostly by NPOs.
Large foundations you have heard of are mostly NGOs are they cover a wider scope as compared to NPOs. NPOs focus more on the improvement of more minor but still very relevant issues like arts and culture. The leaders of both types of organizations are not to profit from the activities or donations received. Thus, both still operate to make profit, not for personal gain but to help many parts of society, whether locally or internationally. Both organizations also seek for various grants to help put color and possibilities to their proposals.
Although they have their differences, at times, grant funding agencies accept applications from both NGOs and NPOs, as the many similarities they have cannot be limited by the grants being offered. In seeking for grants, NGOs would often look into an NPO funding directory and vice versa. This is why many directories have already combined the grants they offer, as many grants also call for both NGO and NPO participation. In the end, whether it is to be an NGO or NPO to be in operation, the important thing is openness to partnership possibilities and unity within and outside the respective organizations.