Today, all countries have large numbers of NGOs at least at the local level. Even under the most authoritarian regimes or in the least developed countries there are self-help co-operative groups, community welfare associations, religious groups, professional and scientific associations, sports and recreational bodies, etc. The presence or absence of a democratic political culture is one of the major variables determining the number of NGOs, but the size of a country, its ethnic, religious and cultural diversity, the complexity of its economy and the quality of its communication infrastructure are also of crucial importance.
Many people are still trapped by the mental prejudice that organizations have to be situated in geographical space. It might be a practical necessity for an international NGO to have a headquarters office in a particular building, but the location of the office in a North American or a European city does not convert a global NGO into a "Northern Hemsphere" NGO. The proper criteria for assessing whether an organization is global are the location of its membership, the staffing of its headquarters, the sources of its funding and the content of its programs. An organization, such as Amnesty International, with 56 National Sections, groups in some 40 other countries, and an International Secretariat from over 50 countries is a global NGO, even if it started in Britain and has its headquarters in London. Due to the spread of democracy and the improvements in communications, many international NGOs that started in individual countries became global at the end of the twentieth century.
Output from Research Project on Civil Society Networks in Global Governance. (2006, August 15).>br /> Willets, Peter. What is a Non-Governmental Organization?
Accessed April 26, 2007. URL: http://www.staff.city.ac.uk/p.willetts/CS-NTWKS/NGO-ART.HTM