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The Fundamental Differences Between an NGO and a Society

An NGO performs two pivotal functions which are advocacy and service-offering. But what is a society? And what is the big difference between an NGO and a society? Let’s find out.

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On its Twitter page on 9th September, the Ministry of water resource applauded the efforts of the NGO named “Paani Foundation”. This NGO by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao has been transforming regions of Maharashtra from drought to prosperity. It has been making untiring efforts over the years to make Maharashtra drought-free.

There are two major associations that act as silver bullets for refining the world. Non-governmental organisations and societies are two important types of organisations that work tirelessly to improve people’s lives. There are several distinctions between an NGO and a society. On the other hand, there are a plethora of common factors that bring them together. They both work for a developed civilization and the happiness of every troubled individual. These organisations work on the outskirts without any regard for personal gain or profits.

NGO – A Wide Prospect

The term NGO has a very wide scope as compared to the term society. This is because non-governmental organisations include even trusts, Section 8 companies and societies within their structure. 

The Term Society Is a Part of the Term NGO

There are three major forms in which NGOs function:

  • They work as trusts, Section 8 companies and societies
  • A society is not a major organisation in itself
  • It is an element of non-governmental organisations. 

Further, societies are bound to function only as a part of an NGO and not as an independent association. A society can only function through advocacy and they cannot participate in service roles as per the regulations guiding it. This is a very basic yet significant difference between NGOs and societies. 


Difference Between Members of NGOs and Societies

The primary distinction between NGOs and societies is the total number of members. Non-governmental organisations carry out their work on a larger scale, which is why they have a large number of members. However, because societies operate on such small scales and levels, they only have 20 to 30 members.

Level of Operations of Societies and NGOs

A society works at a small level. They are formed by mutual consent of a mere 20 to 30 members. They are associated with a particular agenda or motive which can sometimes be attained in a short duration. However, NGOs work far more different, in fact, a society is a part of an NGO. It is like a subset of the mechanism of an NGO. 

In general, societies serve to fix complex issues that exist in a small town or region. More often than not society’s goal is to address issues that only exist in a small group. Civil societies are an important part of any community. They play a prudent role in propelling civilization’s social and economic changes. 

Non-governmental organisations work on state, national and international levels. They take serious issues in their consideration and work the best out of their potential to fix large-scale social issues. They are registered and formed by abiding by stringent rules and regulations.

All in all, NGOs fight the major problems which hamper the prosperity of humanity and animal race. Furthermore, they strive for the welfare of the ecosystem and do everything possible to save the environment from considerable problems.

Let’s look at these two illustrations to get a deep and crisp understanding related to the functioning of an NGO and society.

When any natural calamity hits any nation or many parts of the world then Non-governmental organisations take centre stage and help people. These organisations also collect funds from across the world to help stranded people survive the catastrophe. 

They also make all the necessary arrangements to help people cope with the crisis. NGOs organise rehabilitation centres for the victims of the disaster. They aspire to provide them with food, shelter, sanitation facilities, and healthcare assistance. 

TNGOs many a times control and manage disaster-related situations in a more synchronised and better way compared to the government. The primary reason is that they work on ground levels more often than not and that is why they can impart efficient assistance and aid to the victims of the mishap.      

Societies on the other side of the story are not as effective as NGOs. They are not able to provide benefits to society on a large scale. They are subjected and restricted to serve people only in a particular region. This is a primary difference between NGOs and society.   


These are some pivotal differences between NGOs and society. The most incredible aspect about these organisations is that they sometimes outperform the government in terms of the work they do. They do not work for the sake of a selfish agenda or a nefarious goal. In fact, they strive hard to make society prosper and flourish. When people lose hope and are disheartened by the uncertainties of life or the inequalities prevailing in society. Societies and NGOs come to the rescue of victims.   

Now that you know the main difference between NGOs and societies, get in touch with our experts right away to start building your social welfare mechanism right away!


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