A Crash Course in NGOs

By Nadia Torkman

One Mobile Projector Per Trainer (OMPT) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) that works with other International Organizations (IOs) and NGOs on projects that promote information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D).

Whew! Now those are a lot of abbreviations to remember! 

With all of this lingo, sometimes it is very hard to follow what is going on in the realm of aid organizations, and we at OMPT want to make sure we help paint a clear picture and bring more understanding to what we do and to NGOs in general. All of these foreign words and phrases populated in our blog posts and on our website are all part of who we are and what we do.

Below, let’s break down some of the most important acronyms and NGO jargon in OMPT’s world.

What is an NGO?

An NGO can be defined as an organization, usually a non-profit that works and is run completely independent from any government entity. This means that they are not influenced from any governmental body globally. NGOs can receive funding from governments, however any representatives of said government are barred from becoming members and the money cannot be used to bribe or push restrictions on the organization. An NGO can be an IO, but not all IOs can be an NGO. IOs are organizations with an international presence, and can be both governmental and non-governmental institutions.


Non-Profit vs. Not-for-Profit

Table 2.JPG

An NGO is defined as a non-profit group performing a humanitarian service and providing expertise. But what’s a non-profit? Is it the same as a not-for-profit? Turns out, they are two separate things. Both have the goal of working towards a cause, and the two names are frequently used interchangeably. However, there are key differences that distinguish one from another. Not-for-profit organizations are not as common, they’re run by volunteers, they’re smaller than nonprofits, and they usually provide assistance to the general public with services such as a recreation organization. Nonprofits are known to have paid employees, have a purpose besides raising money such as promoting a belief or an idea, and can qualify for certain tax exemptions. A nonprofit does not work towards a goal of monetary gain, and the organization has to be working towards a cause rather than working for financial gain. OMPT is considered a nonprofit organization, which means that we are also an NGO or a non-governmental organization.

It is important to distinguish between NGOs and IOs as well, as IOs are international organizations that are formed or backed by state governments. The American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders are two examples of well-known nonprofits. OMPT primarily works with NGOs on projects because not having a government affiliation makes partnerships less difficult. On the other hand, a for-profit organization has the primary goal of earning money and most businesses fall under this category.

ICT4D: Information and Communication Technologies for Development


As mentioned above, OMPT falls under the category of an ICT4D organization. This means that we are working to use modern technology and forms of communication to promote the development and positive behavior change in developing regions. ICT4D today now allows people in under-developed countries to not just be consumers of technology, but they now have the ability to be content creators and more self-sufficient by creating videos and using film to help spread ideas, for example. OMPT focuses on the application of video as a form of ICT4D to three main categories of agriculture, health, and education/ literacy to help improve advancement and success in those sectors. ICT4D is something that NGOs like OMPT are helping implement to foster development in a way that is  modern and efficient. 

SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals


Another component of what we are working towards are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN). The SDGs were established in 2015 and built off of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are 17 total SDGs that have been created to improve the least developed regions of the globe by 2030.  With each project that we do, OMPT is doing its part to progress these goals and have completed projects that fall under 9 of the 17 goal subcategories from quality education to clean water and sanitation efforts. As an organization, OMPT connects strongly with goal 17 which works to enhance technology and innovation, promote the dissemination of information, and improve capacity development in under-developed countries. Capacity development is another phrase that is part of the foundation of OMPT. In short, it is the process a person or group goes through to improve skills and retain information to better complete a task or do a job and to do it more efficiently and sustainably. During projects, OMPT provides video workshops, resources, and equipment to help groups operate at a greater capacity, therefore improving effectiveness and promoting development. 

Between all of the acronyms and definitions, it can be hard to keep up sometimes, but all of these terms help to further OMPT’s main goal to help the world’s bottom billion people through technology and education. We hope to promote positive social and behavioral change by providing people with the resources to make helpful educational videos with a message that can be easily disseminated and implemented. Our organization works to train, equip, and empower people to reach goals and improve livelihoods. 

As you get more acclimated to the world of non-government organizations, here’s a quick cheat sheet for all those letters!