The Portuguese state, as is expressed in the NGDOs Statutes and Co-operation Protocol signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese NGDO Platform, recognises the crucial role played by non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) in the areas of development assistance, humanitarian aid and development education, in which they:

  • Ensure interconnections between national, European and international organisations;
  • Define and apply the criteria for the allocation of aid whilst participating in projects;
  • Ensure the involvement of non-governmental development organisations.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are institutions of a social and cultural nature, often with humanitarian objectives and sometimes inspired by the social thinking of religious groups or by the ideals of secular movements.

Their main area of concern is for the poorest sections of society and the consecration of the idea of human, civic and social rights which, since the 19th century, has made them an important player in this area.

The Red Cross was founded in Geneva in 1863 followed by the Salvation Army two years later. In 1897, Caritas started in Germany and in 1942, during the Second World War, Oxfam began in London. 1943 saw the beginning of the Catholic Relief Service before the American Co-operative Agency for Relief Everywhere (CARE) got started in 1945. These NGOs represent the maxim upon which the philosophy of intervention of all modern NGDOs is based.