Definition: NGO stands for "non-governmental organization." The function of NGOs can vary widely, from service organizations to human-rights advocacy and relief groups. The designation came into popular use after the founding of the United Nations to differentiate between governmental and non-governmental bodies. The NGO was deemed "any international organization that is not founded by an international treaty." NGOs not only serve as checks-and-balances for government, and governmental watchdogs, but are crucial cogs in wider governmental initiatives, such as relief response to a natural disaster.