Nongovernmental Organizations

Article appearing in International Encyclopedia of Political Communication

  • Author:
  • Sabine Lang
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
  • Date: 2016

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are vital to organizing citizens in the 21st century. Their performance, however, is still measured primarily in terms of policy outcomes. Not until recently have political communication perspectives been introduced into the study of the NGO sector. NGOs engage with their constituents and donors as well as with the media and larger publics in a rapidly changing communication environment. They advance their issues not primarily by way of using the traditionally contentious repertoires of social movements. Instead, they employ more professionalized communication strategies that are geared towards institutional influence. In addition, member‐based organizations give way to more loosely network‐based advocacy coalitions without a defined membership base. Finally, NGO communication is shaped by an altered media environment, in particular the loss of specialized journalist knowledge in areas of NGO expertise as well as the increasing role of new media and online advocacy.