Non-government Organizations in Italy


NGOs are non-government organizations, which implies that they act independently of the government. These organizations receive the majority of their funds from private donations, which helps them be unbiased in their activity. The missions and visions of NGOs vary in different parts of the world due to cultural and historical differences. The present paper aims at analyzing the missions and values of three NGOs in Italy and discuss their history and peculiarities. The paper claims that Italian NGOs have similar characteristics to all the European NGOs, which implies that they shape the opinion of the society and influence the activities of corporations. Additionally, NGOs in Italy have close ties with the government, which facilitates their activity.

Types and Mission of NGOs

There are various types of NGOs in Italy and Europe, which differ in their mission, vision, and approaches to actions. The range of problems that NGOs touch upon include environmental protection, human rights, protection of minorities, and humanitarian help. For instance, one of the largest NGOs in Italy with more than €80 million in revenue is AVSI (Statista, 2021). The organization implements developmental and humanitarian projects in 38 regions of the world. Its mission is to implement “cooperation projects in various sectors with a preferential focus on education, meaning that the person is accompanied towards self-discovery and recognition that the other person is a resource” (AVSI, 2021, para. 4). The organization’s method is to emphasize the value of every person and focus on their strengths to foster positive social change (AVSI, 2021). The organization implemented thousands of projects that focus on humanitarian help, education intervention for marginalized groups, and providing food and shelter for the homeless.

The largest NGO in Italy is Save the Children Onlus, with more than €113 million in revenues. The organization focuses on the protection, health, and education of children around the globe. The organization’s mission is to attempt to save every child on the planet (Save the Children, n.d.). The organization assesses and meets the unique needs of children in different parts of the world and implements projects that help to meet these needs. The organization works on individual, family, community, country, and even region levels to promote the idea that children should have equal rights to protection without any bias.

NGOs in Italy work in close cooperation with the government and international authorities. For instance, AVSI has consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and closely cooperates with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (AVSI, 2021). Save the Children work with the government to protect the interests of children in Italy by providing the government with expertise, information, and leadership in addressing the needs of the vulnerable population. Therefore, even though NGOs are independent of the government in Italy, these organizations try to work in close contact with the government to ensure the effectiveness of interventions.

History of NGOs in the Region

The history of NGOs in the world officially started after World War II, when the term was coined by the United Nations. However, in Europe, different religious orders, missionary groups, and scientific societies engaged in the activities associated with the functions of modern NGOs. The first known official organization was established in Amsterdam in 1767 under the name of the Society for the Recovery of the Drowned, which specialized in rescuing and resuscitation of shipwreck victims (Nothias, 2016). First known NGO-like organization in Italy was established in 1834 by Giuseppe Mazzini (Nothias, 2016). It was called Young Europe, and its aim was to promote nationalism.

The first massive expansion of NGOs in terms of numbers and areas of activities happened during the period between the 1870s to World War I. During this period, more than 400 bodies were established around Europe, including the Universal Scientific Alliance, the World League for Protection of Animals, and the International Council of Women (Nothias, 2016). Organizations of that time were successful in establishing respect for art and printing among the countries, as well as reduced sex trafficking in the region (Nothias, 2016). The development of NGOs spurred after World War II; however, during the cold war, the activities of international NGOs were very limited due to superpower tension (Nothias, 2016). Since the 1990s, international NGOs started to develop rapidly due to increased internationalization (Nothias, 2016). Today, NGOs are a major political and social power in Italy.

NGOs in Italy and the COVID-19

Today, NGOs in Italy united to fight off the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, Save the Children (n.d.) started to promote the idea that children need to return to school as soon as possible, as they are being deprived of their right to education. UNICEF (2021) is giving it every effort to provide children around the globe with the COVID-19 vaccines. The AVSI Foundation raises funds to implement humanitarian missions that fight off the economic impact of the pandemic (US Embassy & Consulates in Italy, 2021). The NGOs work in close cooperation to pursue a common cause, which is an excellent example of how these organizations grew to become a major world power that drives positive social change.


NGOs in Italy have a long history starting in the XVIII century. NGOs play a wide variety of roles and pursue different missions in Italy. They closely cooperate with the government and with other organizations. Today, all the NGOs in Italy united to fight off the consequences of the pandemic.


AVSI. (2021). Who we are

environment. (n.d.). About the NGOs in Italy: Definitions and brief statistics. 

Nothias, J.-C. (2016). NGOs: A long and turbulent history

Save the Children. (n.d.). What we do. 

Statista. (2021). Leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and foundations in Italy in 2019, by revenue. 

UNICEF. (2021). Global leaders commit further support for global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and COVAX

US Embassy & Consulates in Italy. (2021). U.S. Government Support for the Italian Private Sector to Fight COVID-19. 

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