What are NGDOs?

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are social and cultural institutions, often for humanitarian purposes and frequently inspired by the social awareness of religious denominations or the ideals of secular movements.

According to the NGDO Charter, non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) are institutions of Civil Society established by natural or legal persons with a private non-profit status and based in Portugal.

A strong Civil Society is an important element in the building and development of democracies and a permanent test of the sensitivity of societies, especially with regard to issues such as poverty, gender inequality and free access to education. NGDOs are increasingly becoming development partners, as has been reflected in the growing number of projects supported by Camões, I.P.

What is the role of NGDOs?

The Portuguese State, as expressed in the NGDO Charter and in the Co-operation Protocol between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese NGDO Platform, recognises the fundamental role of non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) in the field of development assistance, humanitarian aid and education for development, and seeks to:

  • Ensure integration with national, European and international organisations;
  • Define and apply the criteria for the granting of support and promote its participation in projects;
  • Ensure the registration of non-governmental development organisations.

What are the objectives of NGDOs?

The purpose of NGDOs is to design, implement and support development co-operation programmes and projects, humanitarian assistance, emergency relief and the protection and promotion of human rights.

What legal form can NGDOs take?

An NGDO may take the form of an association, a foundation, a cooperative or an organisation established by the church, but is not allowed to have a party political, trade-union or religious nature nor to engage in military co-operation activities.

What is the benefit of obtaining NGDO status?

With the obtaining of NGDO status, the organisation will benefit from the status of a public corporation and will be able to apply for co-financing projects, in accordance with the Project Cofinancing Rules, consisting of the following documents: Eligibility Criteria; rules for the Implementation of the Co-financing Process; Guidelines for the Presentation of Program Proposal/Co-operation Projects and Model Finance Plan.

What are the NGDOs' areas of intervention?

Usually, NGDOs have the following areas of intervention: education, training and culture; scientific and technical assistance; health, including medical, drug and food; employment and vocational training; protection and defence of the environment; social and community integration; rural development; strengthening Civil Society through support to similar associations and grassroots associations in developing countries; through the dissemination of facts about developing countries in public opinion.

Which Project Areas are considered priority?

The support of Camões, I.P. to NGDOs covers several areas, but the following are considered priorities for Portuguese Co-operation: poverty reduction, education/training, institutional strengthening and support for economic activities. Regarding the criteria of geographical scope, priority is given to projects to be developed in Portuguese Speaking Countries.

How can NGDO status be recognised?

NGDO status is assigned by Camões, I.P., through a registration valid for a period of two years. After this period, NGDOs must submit a application for renewal of the status.

What are the registration phases of an organisation to become an NGDO?

The procedure for registering an organisation as an NGDO usually consists of three stages: the start-up, the investigation and the decision. If the evidence in the case leads to a decision unfavourable to the applicant NGDO, there will also be a fourth stage between the investigation and the decision: the hearing of the interested parties.

How long does recognition of the status of an NGDO last?

Recognition of NGDO status is for a period of two years from the date of application. After two years, the organisation must apply for renewal of the status.

How can NGDOs submit applications under the Co-operation and Development Education Financing Lines?

Under the Development Co-operation policy defined by the Government, a Co-operation Protocol was signed on June 20 2001, between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese Platform of Non-Governmental Development organisations, which explicitly recognises "NGDOs as part of Portuguese Civil Society, which play an important role in the areas of Co-operation for Development, Education for Development and Humanitarian Aid and act as channels for impulses to and for Civil Society." In its Clause 4, the Protocol also stipulates that the MFA should provide "each year a specific allocation for the programmes and projects to be developed by NGDOs and the Portuguese NGDO Platform, in accordance with the policies and strategies previously defined".

Click here for more information on the financing lines. 

What are the basic documents to support the preparation of an application in Co-operation and Development Education Projects?

The application of projects to be co-financed by Camões, I.P. within the scope of the application for Development Co-operation and Education projects under the responsibility of NGDOs, is made in accordance with the regulatory context defined for each of the support lines.

Where can I find information on international funding opportunities?

Within the Support Mechanism for the Development of Co-operation Projects for Portuguese NGDOs, a joint initiative between the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the EDP Foundation, the Luso-American Foundation for Development and the Portugal-Africa Foundation (Promoting Foundations) and with the support of the Camões, I.P., information is available here on several lines of international funding, with open applications, for development projects.

For further information please contact:

CEsA - Centro de Estudos sobre África, Ásia e América Latina
Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão/UTL
Rua Miguel Lupi, 20
1249-078 Lisboa
Tel: 21 3925983
Fax: 21 3976271
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.