In both industrialized and developing countries, there is a growing body of experience, which attests to the positive roles that non-profit organizations (NPOs) play in the economic development of a country. In many developed countries, NPOs have been recognized as a "third sector", after public and private sectors. These roles may include:-
- providing goods and services - especially meeting needs which have not hitherto been met by either the public or by the private sector;
- assisting the government achieve its development objectives - in particular through contributing skills for which NPOs have comparative advantage, such as public information, education and communications campaigns, or providing information about the situations and needs of particularly vulnerable groups;
- helping citizens to voice their aspirations, concerns and alternatives for consideration by policy makers, thereby giving substance to governments' policies regarding freedoms of association and speech;
- helping to enhance the accountability and transparency of government and local government programs and of officials.
Recently, a national level NPO Symposium was organised by the the Legal Affairs Division (Bahagian Hal Ehwal Undang-Undang or BHEUU) of the Prime Minister Department, Malaysia. Currently, there are 370 NPOs in the form of "Trustee Incorporated" that are registered with BHEUU. The main aim of the symposium was firstly, to allow BHEUU and other regulators such as Bank Negara Malaysia and Inland Revenue Board to directly engage with NPO members and secondly to create awareness among NPO members in Malaysia on legislations such as Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Act 613), Income Tax Act and "Best Practice Guides pn Managing NPOs". Professor Dr Normah Omar has also been invited to give a talk on "NPO Governance" at the symposium. The symposium was officiated by the YB Hajah Nancy Haji Shukri, Minister of the Prime Minister Department.