What Is The Difference Between An NGO And A CBO?

NGOs and CBOs are the types of organisations that society needs and leans on in times of crisis. While both work for the welfare of society, there is a difference between their scope of work and their legal status. 

NGO specifically refers to a non-governmental organisation with no government affiliation and usually works for a cause. CBO stands for a community-based organisation whose scope is restricted to an area. They share a similar motive  – performing social service and improving society. Whenever there are issues regarding social, economic, spiritual, and emotional consensus, these kinds of organisations fight for the cause they believe in.  

NGO stands for non-governmental organization, or non-profit organization. Community-based organizations are also known as CBOs. Their common goal is to promote the welfare of society and the people. There are many social, economic, spiritual, and emotional problems in the world today.

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Types of NGOs, they are trusts, societies or Section 8 companies are formed with a particular cause in mind. The organisation’s work and activities aim to promote that cause or achieve goals about that cause. For example, if A starts an NGO to promote street artists, their tasks will revolve around funding street artists, creating awareness among people about the value of street artists, and trying to provide exposure for these artists.


CBOs, on the other hand, focus on a locality. The aim is to improve lives in that locality in general, or in any one aspect. Say, B starts a CBO to improve the environmental impact in a city. This CBO will take up activities like planting more trees, waste management in the area, setting up recycling plants, etc. 

Organisation Structure

An NGO is a full-fledged organisation that comprises members who are similar to employees. NGOs have a proper organisational structure and are usually registered and legalised as an entity. It can collect funds and avail tax deductions for those. NGOs work on large scales and thus they have more synchronisation and assertion as a team. They work under the guidance of a specific hierarchy monitoring them.

Community-based organisations are made of people from the locality who come together to support a particular cause in a specific area. They are not legalised by any custom, duty, or memorandum. They are liberal to process their actions without any restrictions.

Legal Prospects

The fundamental difference between NGOs and CBOs are their legal frameworks. A non-governmental organisation will constitute a legal memorandum and an adequate structure of members.

The community-based organisation is not led by any legally bound criteria. It is established randomly without ascertaining the foundations of legal norms. It is more like an informal group of people who take good actions for the betterment of a small community. 

Work Criteria

The work of an NGO is allocated to wider prospects whereas CBOs work for specific communities only. NGOs can work for chains of states and deal with the problems prevailing there. 

For example, when a natural calamity hits a state, NGOs from anywhere can take up tasks to reverse the situation back to normalcy. While in those cases, a CBO usually looks at the damage in their area and focuses on fixing it. However, there is no hard and fast rule that a CBO cannot take up social work in other areas. 

Generally, NGOs look to scale their activities over time to promote their cause, on the other hand, CBOs are formed to improve an area and have no intention to scale. CBOs can jump into action in times of need, but that is not in their agenda or vision for the organisation.

Source of Funding

NGOs and CBOs are similar when it comes to the modes of funding. They usually don’t have a steady stream of funds pouring in through a business (while that is an option). Rather, they depend on donations from people who are willing to spare money for the cause. Sometimes they get funding from corporations, celebrities or even the government. Although, most small CBOs get their funding from their community itself.

Both of these entities do not work to make profits. They use the funding they receive solely on the causes for which they work. Sometimes, there is a sharp spike in funding during times of distress as these are the organisations that come forward to help people in times of need and emergency. 


While there are some differences in their structure and legal status, these organisations are flag bearers of goodness, humanity, brotherhood, solidarity, and compassion in our society. Even during the times of this pandemic, it was NGOs and CBOs that came forward for the relief work that people needed desperately.

So, if you are planning to start an NGO or CBO, we at Vakilsearch appreciate your and applaud your good intent. We can help with setting up an NGO by making NGO registration easy for you. 

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