They have been accused of being designed by, and used as extensions of, the foreign-policy instruments of some Western countries and groups of countries.[95][96] Russian president Vladimir Putin made that accusation at the 43rd Munich Security Conference in 2007, saying that NGOs "are formally independent but they are purposefully financed and therefore under control".[97] According to Michael Bond, "Most large NGOs, such as Oxfam, the Red Cross, Cafod and ActionAid, are striving to make their aid provision more sustainable. But some, mostly in the US, are still exporting the ideologies of their backers."[98]


They are organizations that operate independently from any government, but they may receive funding from a government and they operate without oversight or representation from that government. Are there things that can insure that NGOs are less susceptible to government influence? Not getting money from the government might be one thing, but how do you insure that, and is that proven to be effective against control and influence from the government? Because there must be other means through which a NGO could be influenced by the government or several governments. I am thinking transparency, board member voting etc. although I can't really think of specific set of actions.


Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were once considered as altruistic groups whose aim was to impartially influence public policy with no vested interests. Nevertheless, this perception has changed. They are increasingly perceived as groups that prioritize their own ideologies or that respond to the interests of their donors, patrons, and members rather than to those of the groups they represent. This article discusses the politics of NGOs in the present changing globalized world as agents concerned with social and environmental change as much as with their own causes. It argues that numerous NGOs are as much a part of national and international politics as any other interest group and that their practices and activities are not always in the search of a good society or the common good.

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    The answer will probably involve transparency on two fronts: governence and funding. We need to know how the NGO governs itself and how they balance their check book. A shell-NGO (created to obscure political intent) is unlikely to withstand such scrutiny if they are forced to reveal their clearly partisan appointees and financial sources. Once the information is out there, it is up to the public to hold them accountable (same as to private sector). Jul 3, 2022 at 6:06
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    I will say it seems rather futile to persuade Putin whether NGOs harbor political intent. We're talking about a former KGB officer who is suffering from extreme paranoia and has control over the media bubble which he lives in. He will find reasons to be suspecious of anything regardless. Jul 3, 2022 at 6:13
  • @QuantumWalnut: frankly that's being too kind. The KGB is well known for engineering vast campaigns of disinformation, so assuming that Putin is just paranoid as opposed to engaging in a big lie that conveniently allows him to shut down any critics... is too kind. Jul 3, 2022 at 18:41

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There are facts and perceptions to consider.

Against perceptions, the fight is possibly hopeless. A government that does not allow a free press or civil society in their own countries simply won't believe that there is a free civil society in other societies. Look at what Russia has done to Memorial -- that Amnesty or Oxfam are not banned in the West is seen as an endorsement by the West.

Somewhere between perceptions and facts, there is the fact that many such organizations are formally recognized as charitable organizations, which can lead to tax relief for donors and their operations. That could also be seen as an endorsement by the West, with somewhat more justification. And if the NGOs are funded by Western civil society, they will reflect Western values, because normal people don't donate to causes they don't share.

Which leaves the formal steps a bit pointless, except for those which also help against corruption and a loss of reputation within Western societies:

  • Publish financial statements (e.g. here for Amnesty).
  • Make sure who the partners are (compare WWF, p. 49 and 57).

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