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2 min

Updated on Apr 19, 2024

Published on Jul 6, 2022

NGOs: the electronic signature for the non-profit sector

ONG signature électronique
Pauline Dubois

Pauline Dubois

Content manager @Yousign

Illustration: Mélusine Vilars


The electronic signature is highly cross-disciplinary: it can interest all types of sectors and professions!

You may have already read on our blog about the many benefits that electronic signatures offer to commercial companies but: "did you know that digital solutions such as electronic signatures can also be useful in the non-profit sector?"

N.B. : By "non-profit sector " we mean organisations such as NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and associations recognised as being of public utility.

So take a few minutes and join us to learn more!

  • What is an NGO?
  • The electronic signature: what value does it add?


What is an NGO?

1. Definition

The term Non-Governmental Organisation was introduced by the famous United Nations in 1945 to allow independent international organisations to play an advisory role in the official work of the UN.

The criteria of an NGO:

  • have a non-profit aim in the public interest,
  • be independent of any political authority,
  • carry out effective activity in at least two countries,
  • be dedicated to one or more causes.

They are active in a wide variety of fields in the economic and social areas:

🤝 humanitarian aid (for example, Doctors Without Borders, a Yousign customer),

 🌳 environment and sustainable development (Greenpeace), 

 🗣️ freedom of the press (Reporters Without Borders),

2. Legal status

NGOs have an important place on the international scene BUT until now, no international convention recognises them as having any legal capacity (they are not subjects of international law).

Gif Duh

💡 Good to know: NGOs are considered in the European Union as legal persons under private law. In France, from a legal point of view, an NGO does not have a legal existence and is registered either as an association or as a foundation.

3. Implementing an action or project

There are two ways for NGOs to raise the funds they need to achieve their goals:

  •  own funds from patrons or private donations,
  • calls for projects issued by donors (organisations that finance humanitarian actions).

NGOs and electronic signatures: what value can be added?

1. Legality of the Yousign electronic signature ‍👩‍⚖

The solutions offered by Yousign are compliant with the European eIDAS regulation, the reference legal text defining the common rules for all electronic signature processes:

  • guarantee the integrity of the signed document, 
  • enable the signatory to be identified, thanks in particular to multi-factor authentication (SMS with OTP code, e-mails, identity card verification).

An overview of the signature levels defined by eIDAS here ⬇

In case of disputes:

✔ the Yousign electronic signature is admissible in court,

✔ Yousign offers support by providing an audit trail time-stamped and archived with each signature invitation.

As a reminder: the audit trail contains all the information that led to the successful completion of the signature in order to ensure the security of the various parties.

2. Electronic signatures for NGOs

As explained above, NGOs operate in a specific context that requires, like the for-profit sector, a combination of security, economy of resources and efficiency to achieve their goal.

Arguments in favour of the use of the electronic signature:

1️⃣ dense and complex administrative processes
The electronic signature can streamline this complexity thanks to its many qualities. Typically, there is no need to print, sign, scan and email the documents to be signed.

2️⃣ a great diversity of interlocutors more or less geographically dispersed, on one or more continents
Everything is done digitally and almost instantaneously. Signatories avoid time-consuming physical travel or lengthy signing times due to distance.

3️⃣ more or less limited in-house resources,
Because they operate mainly on donations, it is in the interest of NGOs to avoid unnecessary expenses due to repeated printing or mailing.

4️⃣ compliance with the GDPR,
Yousign guarantees the confidentiality of documents and information processed and hosted on its servers and those of its subcontractors.

5️⃣ secure exchanges with the various stakeholders,
Yousign offers encryption of information and documents as well as hosting on servers located in France for an additional level of security.

3. Putting it into practice: some uses (not exhaustive)

Volunteers are the lifeblood of NGOs, so it is important to provide them with a secure way to join.

📜 Membership form, membership renewal

What could be more natural than to allow donors to contribute to a cause with complete peace of mind?

📜 Donation form, SEPA mandate


Gif alright

For an NGO, this can be a good way to raise money for a particular project or event. On the company's side, this can contribute to its brand image (increased sympathy) with its community.

📜 Partnership agreement


📜 employment contracts, amendments


📜 Minutes of the general meeting, internal regulations


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