In the popular understanding the non-governmental organisations are entities independent of public administration. The Act on Public Benefit Activities and Voluntary Work includes a definition of a non-governmental organisation. In accordance with the above mentioned regulation, the non-governmental organisations are the legal persons established on the basis of the provisions of the Act, who are not entities of the sector of public finances and who do not act in pursuit of profit, including foundations and associations with the exception of political parties, trade unions and employer organisations, trade self-governments, and foundations whose sole founder is the State Treasury. The non-governmental organisations usually operate as associations or foundations. The scope and forms of their operation are varied. Most often they are engaged in culture, ecology, human rights, education and technology.
Other terms considered equal to the non-governmental organisation term are as follows:
The acronym NGO, from the full name non-governmental organisation, is also used.
The third sector is the collective name for non-governmental organisations. This name comes from English and adheres to the division of the social and economic activity in modern democratic countries into three sectors. According to this typology, the public administration is the first sector, sometimes also called the national sector. The business area is the second sector, that is all institutions and organisations whose activity is aimed at profit - also called the private sector. The third sector consists of private organisations, those operating socially and not for profit, that is the non-governmental organisations (non-profit).
The civic dialogue is a form of contact between state authorities and the organisations of the third sector consisting of mutual flow of opinions, information or arrangements concerning goals, instruments and strategies of implementation of public policy. It should not be confused with social dialogue understood as communication between public authorities, trade unions and organisations of employers on collective labour agreement. The participants in the civic dialogue - apart from public authorities - are not only the traditionally understood social partners but also the non-governmental organisations operating on various levels: social, economic, world-view, professional or territorial. Problems connected with work place (company, industry, economy sector) are thus not the only subjects of the civic dialogue. The other subjects are all matters connected with the place of citizen groups within state and society.
Program document of the Government accepted by the Council of Ministers on 22 October this year, entitled “Principles of the Social Dialogue” states that the non-governmental organisations co-participate in the working out and realisation of programmes initiated by the public authorities, and supplement the activities of the public administration where it cannot fulfil on its own socially important tasks.
The following may be public benefit organisations: non-governmental organisations and entities referred to in Article 3(3) points 1 and 4, subject to Article 21 of the Act that is legal persons and organisational units operating on the basis of the provisions on relations between the State and the Catholic Church in the Republic of Poland, on relations between the State and other churches and religious organisations and on the guaranteed freedom of conscience and religion, should their statutory objectives cover activities in the field of family support and foster care system or social assistance; joint stock companies, limited liability companies, and sport clubs operating as companies under the provisions of the Act of 25 April 2010 on Physical Culture (JO L. No. 127, item 857, as amended) which do not operate for profit and allocate all of their profit to perform their statutory objectives and they do not divide their profit between their members, shareholders, stockholders or employees.
In order to obtain the status of o public benefit organisation, the above mentioned organisations must meet the following requirements: